FOLLOWED movie poster | ©2020 Global View Entertainment

FOLLOWED movie poster | ©2020 Global View Entertainment

Rating: R
Stars: Matthew Solomon, Sam Valentine, Tim Drier, Caitlin Grace, Kelsey Griswold, John Savage
Writer: Todd Klick
Director: Antoine Le
Distributor: Global View Entertainment
Release Date: June 19, 2020 (release expands June 26, 2020)

FOLLOWED is a better-than-average found-footage horror movie. What elevates FOLLOWED among its fellows? For one thing, it’s got a plot, which immediately helps. For another, it’s got characters who have understandable motivations. For a third, it’s got good, creepy mythology to go with its suitably ominous setting. However, those who cannot abide the found-footage subgenre should take heed at the outset.

Michael (Matthew Solomon), who goes by the screen name DroptheMike, has a popular web vlog that visits the sites of gruesome murders and reputed hauntings. Mike is obnoxiously glib when he’s doing his for-camera schtick, but he’s gradually revealed to be an otherwise decent person. Mike does not believe one little bit in the supernatural, unlike his camera operator Chris (Tim Drier), who is still traumatized by an eerie incident from childhood.

Mike is offered a lucrative sponsorship if he can up his follower base by the end of Halloween weekend. Hoping to cash in, Mike ropes in Chris, backup camera operator/sound recorder Danni (Sam Valentine) and grouchy editor Nic (Caitlin Grace) to spend three days with him at the Lennox Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The Lennox has a reputation that makes THE SHINING’s Overlook sound like a playpen. A tourist was found burned to death in the basement just three months ago. And yet, the venue is still open for business, with multiple floors rented out to low-income residents.

When Chris starts reacting to some inexplicable incidents, Mike insists that the rumors about demonic infestation at the Lennox can’t be true, or else all the tenants would be dead. In a welcome piece of logic, Chris replies that the demons may be acting up because Mike is provoking them.

There’s more, like a nicely-structured back story, the inclusion of the “Elevator Ritual” (for those who’ve never heard of it, this is a real thing), and planting of early bits that pay off later. Parts of FOLLOWED appear to take over the viewer’s screen, which, for those who are watching online, will be plenty scary in of itself. (“What the heck is going on?! Oh, it’s only the movie, whew …”)

Although FOLLOWED does have a relatively soft first act (like most found-footage pieces), director Antoine Le and writer Todd Klick wind up telling a progressively involving yarn. They also have naturalistic dialogue and attitudes, put forth by strong, persuasive actors. Solomon is especially good as Mike, and John Savage has a helpful supporting role as an author who’s an authority on The Lennox.

FOLLOWED does nothing to explain the popularity of real-world versions of Mike’s vlog – found-footage horror is one thing, but “reality” horror, where nothing can ever actually happen, seems an odd subgenre – but that’s not the movie’s purpose. It has atmosphere, conviction, some jolts, and a narrative that holds up to scrutiny, which shouldn’t be too much to ask, but is more than we often get.

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