Review by Sean Boelman
Screen-based horror movies have established themselves as the new modern equivalent of found footage, and they’ve worn out their welcome even quicker. However, Antoine Le’s new movie Followed is surprisingly both a ton of fun and quite scary, showing that there is still potential in the gimmick if used correctly.
The film follows a popular social media influencer and his crew as they stay at a haunted hotel in the hopes that they can gain enough subscribers to earn a large sponsorship. Similarly to other movies like this, it starts out with idyllic young people making bad decisions and paying the price for it, but eventually, it becomes clear that writer Todd Klick has something more interesting in mind.
For the first half of the movie, Klick is still trying to set up the world, giving the audience a handful of exposition dumps that set up the mythology with the occasional jump scare thrown in for good measure. But once the rules are set, Klick makes the film stand out by giving the audience a strong reason to care about the story.
Around the halfway mark, there’s a significant change in the arc that takes the characters from being annoying caricatures of the social media generation to legitimately interesting and well-rounded individuals. With this, it becomes much easier to buy into their story, and the desire for them to succeed (and survive) starts to feel even more urgent.
To this point, the movie is pretty spooky, but once viewers become fully invested, Le is able to turn up the intensity and it becomes much more exhilarating. Klick does a good job of making sure that all the dramatic, character-driven moments feel complete before he scares the crap out of viewers, and it works super well.
Matthew Solomon plays the lead role in the film, and he’s super charming. Even when he’s supposed to be playing an overzealous maniac, he brings a lot of humanity to the character in a way that grounds the movie. The supporting cast, particularly Tim Drier and Sam Valentine, also add their own touches of emotion to their roles.
Admittedly, the film may have worked a bit better had the social media element been cut out and there was less simulated breaking of the fourth wall, but there are still some really impressive things done with the movie. The set dressing of the film is especially strong, lending it a very immersive atmosphere.
Followed is a pleasant surprise: a horror movie that is actually scary and intense for a change. It may not be perfect, but it’s a lot more enjoyable than most other supernatural horror flicks that try to use a found-footage or screen-based format.
Followed opens in theaters beginning June 19.