Follow Her (FRIGHTFEST 2022)
Written by and starring Dani Barker (STARVIVAL) and directed by Sylvia Caminer, FOLLOW HER is a thriller for the social media generation. Looking through the lens of wannabe New York City actress Jess Peters, who lives her life chasing fame online, we see how easy it is even for someone as savvy as she is to fall into the trap of an online predator.
Catfished into thinking she was booking a new gig, Jess shows up and gets more than she bargained for when her new boss is more than he seems. The writer takes what could easily have been a contrived plotline for her characters and elevates it to something so fun that once I realized what the movie was trying to do, it only made me more invested in the outcome. The idea of living out a script to find out who survives the end and using the backdrop of internet predators and fame is genius.
The film is glossy and cleanly shot. Interestingly enough the parts that are supposed to be “for the ‘gram” are made to look amateurish and actually are shot flat and sloppily like many of the indie films that have graced this site over the last decade. The movie makes a good case for being careful who you’re dealing with online, as it could have grave consequences. It also highlights a disturbing trend of people needing to be seen all the time, the cost of internet fame, and how being looked at when we’re not expecting it (or being paid for it) can be anxiety inducing.
While this movie is clearly meant for an audience younger than this critic, that didn’t stop me from enjoying it one bit. The lead actress/writer Barker fits right into her role perfectly and encapsulates the type of person she’s trying to emulate/satirize in a way that feels true to the character. At this point many of us, especially those that live in either New York City or Los Angeles, have seen a person like Jess. The only unbelievable thing in this film is the size of Jess’ Queens apartment (although how she affords it is in the first place is addressed in the film itself).
The director, Sylvia Caminer, is generally known as more of a documentarian than she is for thrillers or horror features, but she does a great job of handling FOLLOW HER and keeps the film tight and trim, coming in at a standard hour and a half runtime.
The visuals, which I’ve already alluded to are filmed well, especially all of the insert shots and graphics highlighting everything from emails to social media posts on copycat (yet still familiar) generic sites. The production quality is high all around. The audio is similarly par the course. The song choices are well thought out and the score is laid in and layered into the movie proficiently. Nothing about this movie screams novice in any way.
There are subtle nods to other horror films, either intentionally or not, throughout FOLLOW HER. There is a great drone(?) shot over some foggy water that feels like something out of THE SHINING and other is a reference to Jess’ job looking for a “Hitchcock” looking lady, and she shows up in her natural blonde hair rather than the wigs she uses for most of her other online “acting” gigs.
Luke Cook, who many might recognize as Lucifer from the Netflix series “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” plays both charming and creepy interchangeably as the man, Tom, who lures Jess’ character into his sinister revenge fantasy. There is one scene where he is absolutely channeling his inner Jim Carrey and it’s both hilarious and terrifying at the same time. It’s perfect for his character.
The pacing gets a little slow by about twenty minutes in but picks up again about ten minutes later and doesn’t let go until the credits roll.
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