Followers Review

Like You’re Next for the influencer generation, SCREAMBOX Exclusive Followers streams on March 12. The home invasion thriller finds a social media influencer in the crosshairs of a relentless dark web cult.

Followers is the story of three friends–Riley, Sam, and Heather–who start the movie off with a camping trip. After one of them inadvertently ruins their ability to charge their cell phones, Sam starts realizing they are being watched from afar by a strange figure in a mask.

Later that night, Riley is abducted by the masked man and tied up in front of a live video feed.

When Heather and Sam wake up, they set out looking for their lost friend, whereupon Heather is caught in a bear trap. Torn between which friend to help, Sam ultimately decides to leave Heather behind and continue looking for Riley. She finds the captive Riley, but is attacked by the man wielding a crossbow.

Sam gains the upper hand and stabs the masked antagonist with one of his own arrows, then frees Riley. The two rush off to save Heather, and they start the long trek back to civilization. A park ranger finds them and starts to try to help them, but he is killed by a crossbow shot; the man Sam left behind is not dead!

After a scuffle, the girls get the villain down, and Sam smashes his brains in with a sledgehammer to save the day.

Now here’s the thing: Does it sound like I just spoiled the movie? Well I didn’t because what I described is the first 15 minutes of the film! From there, we get a timeskip to a-year-and-a-half later, with the trio reuniting at Heather’s boyfriend’s luxurious vacation home… and we find out the terror isn’t over for the girls yet.

TWO UPS AND TWO DOWNS

+What I just described is the first up, as the movie is only seventy minutes long, and it spends fifteen minutes setting up a false plot. It’s a great psych-out when it seems like the story is over, but basically we just got a mini-movie to open the flick and set up what is still to come. As far as cold openings to a movie, this is definitely one of the better ones I have seen.

Additionally, this allows Followers to get RIGHT into the meat of its action and reel the viewer in right away. And at just seventy minutes total, the movie wastes no time and doesn’t stretch itself out unnecessarily. Luckily the creators knew how much concept they had to work with and rolled with that instead of adding twenty to thirty more minutes of cat-and-mouse or plot stuffing.

You have to appreciate a movie that is as long as it needs to be and doesn’t drag out its premise.

+Sam is the central character of the three girls–she is the only one with any real solo scenes in the movie–and after the events of the opening, she is the one shown to be suffering with true Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is fairly well-handled in such a realistic way that Sam is sympathetic, but borderline unlikable. You feel for her, but the movie doesn’t let you wallow in the pity because she is kind of a catty character who isn’t particularly nice to her friends.

There are no “pretty” sides to PTSD, but the movie sets up Sam where she can show how the experience has negatively affected her personality. And as a viewer, you have to remind yourself it’s not her fault; what she went through would change anyone!

Also the use of a droning sound is present to help share the feeling of being in Sam’s head. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a creative use of sound to further push the PTSD aspect of her character.

-Followers is poorly–I would say amateurishly–edited and shot, especially in the opening mini-movie. There are some strange cuts that leave you wondering what exactly you were supposed to have just seen, and the lack of budget shines through in that we see characters injured, but not the moment where the injury happens. They can’t afford to CG an arrow through the leg, so we see a crossbow get shot, then just cut to the character holding a bolt in their calf.

There are also weird flash cuts, where the shot seems to change, but just for a second… if that. We then flash right back to where we just were. This happens several times, and I was never quite sure if it was supposed to be thematic, or if the editor was just having fun with his job. It never seemed to further the story, I’ll say that much.

-And akin to the editing that isn’t quite up to snuff, the dialogue in this effort isn’t particularly good, either. This feels like a harsh thing to say, but there were moments where the dialogue was so generic, and its delivery was so uninspired, I was remind of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. We’re not getting “Oh hi, Mark” or anything, but there’s the little conversational nothings we all say in real life but movies typically have the decency to leave out because they sounds so pointless in a film. It just makes things feel a bit unwieldy and sloppy. Again, this is especially noticeable in the opening segment.

OVERALL

Production and writing issues bog down a movie that otherwise had some real positives going for it. It’s unfortunate to see a movie that has the sense to keep its length short and the ability to display realistic PTSD fumbled away because of sloppy editing. It’s an enjoyable movie for what is is, but it also feels like an unfinished draft. It needed to be turned back in and had some of its flaws reworked big time.

★★ out of 5

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