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FOLLOWERS (2017)

Directed by Ryan Justice
Written by Ryan Justice
Starring Amanda Delaney, Justin Maina, Sean Michael Gloria, Nishant Gogna, David E. McMahon, Emily Steward, Bianca Taylor, Jason Henne
Find out more about this film here

It seems the found footage trend is petering off. While I was reviewing a found footage film pretty much weekly, now a days, it’s the rare occasion that I get to dust off my found footage questionnaire. But just when you thought the battery on the camcorder had run out, here comes FOLLOWERS to remind us that there still might be room for more found footage goodness.

What’s it about?
Caleb (Justin Maina) and Brooke (Amanda Delaney) are a couple that met online, are online stars themselves, and basically record every movement they make for the sake of likes, hits, and online comments from absolute strangers. Caleb and Brooke plan a trip to the forests of Florida and unbeknownst to Brooke, Caleb plans on popping the question to her and of course, he filming it for all of their fans to see. Meanwhile, a pair of filmmakers want to make a film proving how easy it is to track someone down on social media and plans to terrorize Caleb and Brooke on their trip to the woods. And as if that wasn’t enough of a challenge for our pretty heroes, there is something or someone in the woods and its much more dangerous than all of them combined.


Are the actors successfully acting like they aren’t acting?
For the most part, FOLLOWERS is a well acted film. The film highlights some extremely vapid and shallow people and Caleb and especially Brooke are astoundingly good at playing soulless people who live and die by how many fans they have. This made me hate these characters and maybe get a sense of satisfaction when the shit hits the fan, but still, I believed they were the horrible people they were playing. Everyone else is pretty good as well, so for the most part, the illusion that these were real, albeit unlikable people in peril was achieved.

Does the footage feel authentic and untouched by a production team; meaning that is it free of produced musical additions by an invisible orchestra or multiple edits by an omnipotent editor?
There is no additional music apart from the opening and closing sequences, which is totally fine. The footage taken from the cameras is edited together rather seamlessly and there is no real reason given as to why this footage was put together. The fact is, the action of the film was pretty entertaining, so I didn’t focus too much on how or why this footage was spliced together. Still there are multiple cuts back and forth from one camera to another. It serves to tell the story, but doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. At least everything we see is all caught in the frame, which is more than I can say for most found footage films.


Why don’t they just drop the camera and just get the hell out of there?
Because then there would be no movie, do do head. But seriously, this is an issue that must be dealt with in found footage films because the natural inclination is to simply stop filming and run. Thankfully, there are multiple cameras at play here and while one or two cameras dropped, all of them aren’t or some are dropped and left or some are simply dropped in the right place to capture some action. No matter how they did it, they did make it all feel realistic that the camera continued to roll.

Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
No drag away, but this being a film about people whose life is made by confiding into the camera there is an awful lot of it. The film climaxes with one of these, which definitely caused an eye roll or two from me. Still, it wasn’t as horrendous as I have seen and it fits the characters involved, so I will give it a pass for that reason.

Does anything actually happen? Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
There is a long lead in, but because the narrative flips from one group to another and the actors involved are actually kind of interesting to follow, I didn’t mind the way this film played out. The action is broken up into three different vignettes of a sort, so there manages to be some kind of interesting thing going on all the way through. I found the film to be rather infectious and didn’t mind the slower bits.

Does the film add anything to the subgenre and, ultimately, is it worth watching?
I feel FOLLOWERS has some interesting things to say. It talks about the shallow direction our lives have become as we are satisfied by the amount of friends (absolute strangers) we can accumulate online. It highlights some of the dangers of living this way in a fun and downright dangerous manner. It also plays with the title FOLLOWERS in a clever way which I won’t reveal here. All in all, this is a film that infuriated me because of the people it focuses on, but it wants us to feel this way. It’s smarter than it first sets out to be as it begins with this horribly vacant couple, but it expands and becomes much more interesting as it goes on. I’m giving FOLLOWERS my recommendation as it tries and says new things about the world we live in and keeps the story and action interesting from start to finish.




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