21st Jun2019

‘#FollowMe’ VOD Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Kara Kingsward-Hughes, Scarlett Davies, Maria Louis, Tyler Gallant, Connor Garelick, Sam Hardy, Ike Catcher, Devon Rafferty | Written and Directed by Sam Hardy

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Both written and directed by Sam Hardy in his feature film debut, #FollowMe is a thriller with big ole splashes of horror that see’s three London girls, one of them a YouTube creator and two of her buddies, go missing in California while on a trip from LA. This happens after they post on social media using a hashtag, the titular hashtag of #followme.

I am a sucker for films that “follow”, pardon the pun, social media usage as the vehicle for telling a horror story. Unfriended, Searching, Dark Web, there’s a few of them, and they all work because of the curious and creepy nature of the internet, of what lurks on the other side of the screen. There’s a lot to fear and be apprehensive about when it comes to social media and the reliance and insistence on it that people have these days. This movie plays on those fears and has a real sense of realism to it because of that. It isn’t a movie that you watch with your disbelief attempting to be quietly tamed somewhere in the back of your head, but instead is something that could happen and you could easily see in a newspaper of journal one day. That’s what makes it all the more unsettling.

The found footage genre is well trodden, there are so many movies out there in this genre that use that shooting style to tell their stories. Some work, some don’t work. I thought this worked a lot, and having a YouTube user as a main part of the narrative meant it all made sense. You’re watching a vlog, after-all, and seeing the plot unfold as you do. Kara Kingsward-Hughes’s Sophie is the character who stands out. She is the heart of the picture, and I thought she did a good job at carrying the film. There’s an unease as you watch, a tension that is very nesessary when you produce a thriller or a horror film. Sure, there’s comedic moments, elements of mundane life happening, but in the midst of it all is a foreboding atmosphere that creeps along waiting to strike. I thought the whole atmosphere and style worked.

Performance-wise I was pleased. Sometimes you come across found footage horror films that drift by with poor performances and an even worse script, but instead the actors and the writer/director Hardy have collaborated to create something pretty damn fun. It did, at times, feel like watching a YouTube vlog, and I there’s a strong message in here about modern life and the use of social media, the importance of knowing how to use it, and keeping your information locked up. For any of us that use these sites, there’s a definite horror there, a definite playing with those fears we have when it comes to being followed.

Sure, there’s a lack of relatability on a personal level between myself and the girls in the “vlog”, but hey… that’s life. We can’t relate to everyone, and I’m sure some viewers will relate to the girls, and yes, the film is a bit of a slow burner, waiting and taking its time to deliver the goods and hit you between the eyes. I do like a slow-burn horror and thriller though, so it didn’t bother me too much. I’m sure some will have different thoughts on that. It is what it is. It’s subjective to how we each feel.

Solid performances all over, a relevant and interesting plot and writing and direction that shows a confidence and clear aim from the start, #FollowMe does what it sets out to do, and does so in an enjoyable way. It’s an easy watch, and yet still manages to hit some concerning points along the way. I had fun watching this one. A found-footage treat.

#FollowMe is out in the UK now on VOD, to rent or buy, from Amazon Prime.

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