Despite the real-life madness of 2020, it has been a solid year for indie-horror films. With audiences seeking new content on a regular basis, the new social media infected horror treat Followed checks off several boxes and is very much an innovative take on the growing popularity of attainable horror (such as Shudder's recent quarantine flick Host). Followed differentiates from others by following a niche-audience of a horror YouTuber personality that isn't afraid to cross boundaries to boost their audience.
Because of this sometimes satirical social commentary regarding a growing platform and the promise of real-life inspired chills, Followed is an excellent treat for genre fans. Here's why:
One of the most compelling components in Followed stems from the brash and zany character Mike. Mike is an aspiring streamer and influencer, with a wife that handles a majority of the financial burden. A new opportunity to partner with a company means he must finally cross a 50,000 milestone for a chance to make a difference in his (and his family's) life.
Mike is evidently willing to risk the safety of himself and his crew (who are also friends) and has his sights set on that number gives him complete tunnel vision. Mike's occasional lack of empathy is a major focal point of the film and a reflection of the YouTuber lifestyle that can create jaded outlooks in pursuit of attention.
Matthew Solomon portrays Mike, and his presence in the film is a true asset to the production. Despite the fact that Mike is someone you know makes consequential mistakes, Solomon's delivery adds notes of fear, comedy, and even more genuine human elements to the film. Consequently, Solomon's depiction of the online personality is more layered than we've seen in this sub-genre. Both actor and character are important to end result of Followed's successes in horror.
As mentioned, the horrors of social media personas are prevalent. Still, the film also branches out into other factors like the haunted hotel at the center of this live-stream event.
The Hotel Lennox is inspired by Hotel Cecil (now known as the Stay on Main St), a hotel that has had a history of tragedy and mystery. One of these mysteries involves the chilling stories that you can find for yourself with a quick Google search, with plenty of unexplained circumstances surrounding the hotel.
The film's attention to detail in making Followed feel so grounded is a major factor in why the film has cult-classic potential. To make the film even more meta and sharply written, the ending of Followed sets viewers up with the next generation of streamers that are desensitized and detached from reality. Sign me up!
Something that was a fun inclusion for Followed is that it doesn't just leave you wondering. It can be a common trait for found-footage films to introduced eerie concepts without really providing any answers, but this feels like it doesn't want to simply follow that pattern.
In Followed, you go in knowing history, which is fulfilled throughout — and even details as far as the fate of characters; there aren't many loose ends. It's that ability to punctually address plot points and naturally progress that makes it feel like, as a viewer, there's a reward for your investing your time.
The final scene adds a nice touch to still keep an air of mystery intertwined with Followed (and the necessary intro to a possible sequel.) The film tells you everything you need to know, and in this case, it actually works.