“Followed introduces us to aspiring social media influencer “DropTheMike.” When he is offered the opportunity to get a nice stack of cash for sponsorship of his channel, he’s joined by his video crew on a visit to one of the most haunted hotels in America. While there, he expects to have a horrific night of thrills and scares. What begins as a fun investigative challenge quickly descends into a personal hell of true evil, begging the timely question: how far would you go to pursue internet fame?” (Official Synopsis)
The found footage sub-genre is one that is notably saturated with titles, as many filmmakers try to ‘cut their teeth’ in the format as an affordable way to realize their nightmarish vision on a budget. However, there are titles within the genre that act as true stand-outs, exemplifying that the format is less a constraint and instead a inventive way to approach terror. Enter Followed from director Antoine Le, a horror film that absolutely excels in the found footage format to conjure a delightfully disturbing vision.
The narrative follows a social media personality, Mike (Matthew Solomon), who is looking to break into the big leagues of paranormal content. Motivated from the prospect of a major sponsor that will bring him into the big leagues, Mike heads to one of the most haunted hotels in America to wow the prospective clients. A simple set up, there is inspiration behind the location choice which offers depth that is, unintentionally, well timed with interest in the connection – Elisa Lamb and her disappearance at Cecil Hotel. Given the timeline of the film release, it is apparent that the team behind the project were tuned into the mystery and speculation before the case became part of the collective conscience thanks to the Netflix special Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel.
This is important to note, however, since depending on the viewer’s entry point into the film, it can either be perceived as a cash-in or a general interest in the case along with the community that brought it to the limelight. To those ‘in the know’, Followed will act as a sort of love letter to the troves on online sleuths that attempted to seek justice for Lam – it is the perfect setting that captures a moment of intrigue online that was brief yet intense.
At the center of such a renown case, the film also does an exemplary job of injecting a protagonist that straddles the line of manufactured ‘influencer’ and a empathetic character. First introduced as a pariah, one who needs to film everything, Mike is an obnoxious persona and makes up for his stupidity by overcommitting to a personality. There is definitely an early sense of him being disrespectful to the concept of what happened and looking to profit, but this slowly melts away as the viewer learns more about Mike as a person. Admittedly, he starts as one you cheer on to meet a cruel end but soon becomes someone to cheer for – a person with his own personal problems and troubled past that makes him endearing.
Building off a strong foundation, how do the scares themselves pan out? Well, Followed may not move at a breakneck pace, but the scares eventually happening are perfectly executed. On one hand, Followed does not hesitate to offer up some jump scares, with a the break neck ghost chasing down on the crew being a gleefully disturbing highlight. However, the film excels in building a general sense of unease, highlighted in such scenes as a chase where the more observant viewer will notice all the hotel guests have morphed into these odd masked entities. The climax of the film, where Mike enters a basement to wrap up his plan and gain the sponsorship, brings together all the best elements of the production and adds a slight surreal flair to the work. The climax should be experienced, but it blends the foreboding atmosphere, jump scares and mystery of the film in an idyllic way. Ultimately, Followed save the best for last, but has plenty of moments prior that will make the viewer squirm in their seat.
The technical aspects of the film are top notch for the genre. Sound design and editing particularly help bring the nightmarish vision together. In addition, the location scouting really puts the viewer right into, what feels like, the Cecil hotel with its cramped confine spaces contained in a giant building complex. Overall, all aspects of the film come together to mark a standout within the found footage format – it is wonderfully executed.
Fans of the found-footage format should not miss out on Followed, it exists as a showcase as to why the style has become so beloved among a dedicated fandom. The film only falters slightly due to budget restraints and a lead that, for some, won’t engage with the redemptive story arc. Otherwise, the film proves to be a standout in the found footage genre – don’t miss out!
Followed will be available on VOD through Altitude Films on October 12th, 2021, giving UK fans a chance to check out this gem for themselves. It is a perfect film to sneak into your Halloween viewings!
Greetings, My name is Adam and I am from Canada.
My love for all things bizarre came at a young age, as boredom in a small town lead me down a rabbit hole of obscure film, music, tv and literature. I have carried these fascinations with and turned it into a passion for writing, sharing and discussing the various arts.
My area of expertise, if there was one, would be geared towards Asian horror with a particular interest in film and manga. However, if it is odd, disturbing or trashy I probably heard of it or can at least pretend I have in conversation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my work, I always look to grow both as a writer and fan. I truly appreciate anyone willing to come along for the journey and share their passions in turn.