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MOVIE REVIEW: Found Footage Thriller “FOLLOWERS” Falls Flat

Monday, April 24, 2023 | Reviews


Over the last few decades, the found footage subgenre has struggled to evolve as more and more people have regular access to recording devices. In the wake of technological advancements, it would seem there’s something less frightening (and less believable) about a haunted flash drive or cloud storage than cursed physical media. Carrying a camera in one’s pocket at all times has become the norm, and in a world run by social media and its influencers, it seems everyone feels compelled to share their lives on the internet. These are all themes the new film FOLLOWERS (written and directed by Marcus Harben) begins to explore but loses track of in too many storylines and an unfortunate lack of tension or suspense.

Set in a UK university, the film follows Jonty (Harry Jarvis) and his new housemates Zauna (Loreece Harrison), Amber (Erin Austen), and Pete (Daniel Cahill), as they settle into their new living arrangements. As a disgraced influencer, Jonty is determined to regain his lengthy list of followers by any means necessary. Conversely, Zauna is a “serious” documentarian who wants to tell the truths of marginalized people through her filmmaking. Becky (Nina Wadia), Amber’s therapist, is always around pestering the young people and being a little too obvious in her suspicious behavior. When spooky goings-on begin happening on camera Jonty uses the opportunity to regain internet popularity — no matter the cost.

The film adds nothing new to the world of found footage. Using the subgenre as a storytelling device is frankly distracting. Shots are set up too perfectly and with too much intention to come off as believably “found,” Sure, the characters are filmmakers and well-versed in handling a camera, but there’s a line of suspended disbelief between steadily holding a camera in a tense and scary situation and setting up a proper and well-established medium shot. The film’s use of unnamed social media streaming services gets old and takes away from any tension the film might have built. Sadly, the film is just as unfunny as it is unscary, providing only a handful of giggles at what ought to have been humorous moments.

It’s difficult to know who to root for in the film. Jonty, our “hero,” behaves despicably and suffers very few consequences for it. We’re expected to laugh at him lying to a girl about turning off the camera before making moves on her, and he does little except offer his “friends” money to come back and keep working on his project. (Come to think of it, that might be the most believable aspect of the movie.) An interesting climactic reveal is mishandled, dragged out and over-explained. With a too-long middle section that goes nowhere, the film might have benefited from a shorter runtime (which is saying a lot as it only clocks in at an hour and 23 minutes, including credits). 

It’s an unfortunate fumble from the producers of the fun and original Anna and the Apocalypse. With a more even tone and focused plot, the movie might have offered something interesting to the found footage subgenre. In the end, this movie is lost in the cloud.

Ricky J. Duarte
Ricky is a writer, actor, singer, and the host of the "Rick or Treat Horrorcast" podcast. He lives in a super haunted apartment above a cemetery in New York City with his evil cat, Renfield, and the ghosts of reasons he moved to NYC in the first place., @RickOrTreatPod