Written and directed by James Rich, co-written by Serena Kamlani, three friends on a backpacking trip find themselves stalked by a mysterious individual recording their every move. Starring: Revell Carpenter, Molly Leach, Gigi James and Chris Scarciotta.
Given how minimal awareness of personal security has become in a social media world, constantly giving out where you are, when and who with, a horror story of someone using that information to target their victim, isn’t hard to believe. Especially when matched with the severe male psychology of believing when attractive women wouldn’t give them the time of day, they’re cruel and should be punished. Sadly those two elements are a depressingly real combination, and present an opportunity to show of the importance of safety and protecting yourself, but that’s not really what this film is going for. Instead Follower plays it straight down the line of many a horror film that has come before it.
Its style is fairly typical, leaning into the use of distant or obscure angles to highlight the predatory or stalking atmosphere. It has a good choice of location, natural settings, particularly woodland, have a lot to add to a horror film but it feels like the choice of framing doesn’t always make the most of that here. The story is fairly predictable, it’s easy to know where it’s going and it takes a surprisingly long time to get there, particularly given the 62-minute runtime. It’s a typical stumbling block for films such as these, so much time is spent building to the finale, not enough is left to really give a satisfying conclusion. It doesn’t raise the stakes high enough, the risk and danger is at the same level for most of the film, which makes it a little bit more difficult to invest, especially when you have a good idea of what’s coming.
There’s then the issue of creating sympathetic and relatable characters to get behind, to root for, and unfortunately two out of three of the lead women aren’t reaching that. Gigi James as Sam provides the key piece, she presents a survivor who’s self-reliant and tough, almost feeling like your classic final girl. Revell Carpenter portrays an all too typical ‘influencer’ type with Heather and while her performance is fine earlier on, when things get messy, it falls apart quite quickly. Molly Leach lands somewhere in the middle, her performance is better than Carpenter, it’s much more consistent but the character herself is rather forgettable.
Follower has a good concept but the execution is unfortunately predictable. It could still be viewed as a healthy reminder of how putting your entire life online makes you vulnerable, but for the most part it simply ticks familiar horror boxes. There’s not a lot new here to offer, visually it doesn’t make the most of its setting and the progression plays out too simply. It leaves too much until its short-lived finale and doesn’t make for a satisfying conclusion.