Combustible Celluloid
With: Matthew Solomon, Caitlin Grace, Sam Valentine, Tim Drier, Kelsey Griswold, John Savage
Written by: Todd Klick
Directed by: Antoine Le
MPAA Rating: R for language, violent/disturbing images, and brief drug material
Running Time: 96
Date: 06/19/2020

Followed (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Yet another tired example of the "found-footage" horror subgenre, the haunted hotel story Followed mainly consists of junky, twitchy video footage and annoying characters that are just asking for trouble. It opens in drive-ins on June 19, 2020, and will be available digitally on June 26.

In Followed, an unseen figure copies a video on a computer screen, then begins to watch videos posted by "DropTheMike." Mike (Matthew Solomon) makes videos about famous murder scenes. He has been offered a huge sponsorship if he can make it to 50,000 subscribers by Halloween, so he asks his viewers what they'd like to see. The answer comes in, and Mike decides to spend three nights at the haunted Hotel Lennox, in the room once occupied by a serial killer.

After consulting with expert Wallace Fleischer (John Savage), he takes along his DP, Chris (Tim Drier), sound person Danni (Sam Valentine), and editor Nic (Caitlin Grace), and sets up. At first, Mike is enthusiastic about the shoot, but before long, truly horrifying things begin to happen. Will Mike risk his sponsorship, or his life?

Followed seems to be attempting to say something about YouTube culture, exploitation, and advertising, but it adds up to not much more than an acknowledgement that these things exist. There's no other commentary or satire. The underlying story, about ghost hunters blithely entering a haunted house while flippantly claiming that they don't believe in ghosts, is one of the oldest things around, and the movie does little to dust it off and make it feel fresh.

The DropTheMike character is so enthusiastic — he's a showman who's "on" all the time — that he feels somewhat fake. And because he's so dialed-up, when the scary things start happening, they're not in the least surprising.

Some of the secondary characters are at least an interesting juxtaposition to him (it's surprising that he has a fiancee), but did they really expect the poor editor Nic to work around the clock, cutting together all the reams of footage?

Putting the final nail in the coffin for Followed is the shaky video, which, following one of this genre's most obnoxious cliches, fizzles and twitches anytime anything scary is supposed to be happening. Unsubscribe to this one.

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