October is here, and with that, Screamfest is having its annual festival! We were lucky enough to be able to check an interesting Psychological thriller called “Follow Her”, which was screened on October 14th.
In order to go deep to the good stuff right away, let me copy paste the official synopsis:
“Struggling actress and live-streamer Jess Peters (Dani Barker), known to her online followers as J-PEEPS, has finally found her hook: Secretly filming creepy interactions she encounters via online job listings, and using the kinks of others to fuel her streaming success. For her next episode, she’s been hired to write the ending of a screenplay in a remote, lavish cabin. Once there, Tom (Luke Cook), the alluring self-proclaimed screenwriter, hands her a script in which the two of them are the main characters. This client isn’t what he seems, and even though the money’s great… the real payment here could cost her life.”
All right, let’s dig in!
“Follow her” brings a premise that you might believe you know what is going on, and you probably will be HALF right. However, the story never pretends to be too clever nor does it hide clues to rack your brains (on a second viewing you will note some hints that we might have understandably missed). The script has a message, but it does not beat your head with it, like unfortunately too many films do these days. It is not shaming you nor lecturing you, instead it lets you have your own analysis on several themes, but mainly poses the question about going too far just for the sake of fame and likes without being accountable for the damage you might be causing to others. The script does not shy away of pointing out double standards, while poking fun about thriller movies cliches and other troupes, it does a good job managing to integrate all those opinions without stopping the plot from being fun, coy, and yes, at moments, scary.
All of this is very enjoyable thanks to a good pacing, but also due the chemistry between the leads Dani Barker (Who also wrote the script) and Luke Cook.
Jess (Barker) at first looks at “Tom” as a new target for the web show, but later on, she seems to loose her focus and starts to be interested on her new employer/writing partner, but can it be that she is just THAT good at pretending?
And how about Tom (Cook)? Is he really interested on creating a written masterpiece, or he would rather go for something more on the vein of a “reality show”?
With the excuse of brainstorming the script with the use of an improvisation exercise, we see them flirt, dance and smile, but deep down we can see that inside of both of them, there might be an ulterior motive for them to be there. You can try to guess the ending and the twist and turns, but I really would suggest to just let yourself go and enjoy the ride.
The main character Jess seems very likable at first, just like several personalities that we might be following (or at least aware of) on the net this days, but really quick we get to see the other not-so-charming side of the person when she is away of the screen, with all the struggles she faces everyday sometimes due to some circumstances beyond her control and others due to her own faults. So when things start to go bad, unlike a typical slasher, you don’t want to see her harmed, but also you don’t necessarily want her to escape unscathed, or at least without some kind of lesson learned.
While I liked the acting of both leads, I truly believe that Luke Cook steals the show. He is charismatic, serious, funny, and scary whenever he needs to be, and at no moment he goes too far. Sure, some people might find some of his characterizations and accents annoying, but I dare to compare his performance to other charismatic antagonists that had graced the screen: Leslie Vernon for one (If you don’t know who is that, please see “Behind The Mask” NOW), but also Dexter Morgan, Patrick Bateman and even Hannibal Lecter. I can even can picture Cook as a new iteration of the Joker: Part Jack Nicholson, part Heath Ledger, easily.
I loved the camera work, at no moment we miss what is going on (No shaky cam!! Hell Yeah!), the pacing is well handled. At no moment you feel the need to check your watch (or phone) since the story is very engaging. I loved the ending, which sadly I cannot go into detail due to spoilers, but I will say that although “Follow Her” works as a self contained story, it also opens the doors to so many stories on this universe that I would like to see (don’t worry, is not a sci-fi twist).
“Follow Her” (working title “Classified Killers”) is the directing debut of Sylvia Caminer, I enjoyed it a lot. I definitely recommend checking this psycho-thriller (that has some erotic scenes, just wanted to let you know, in case some little ones are at the living room when you watch this!), and to keep your eyes on this director.
I will be looking forward for her next project, and I already put this title on my “will buy” list when it gets released on psychical media.
Screamfest is running from to October 11th – 20th at TCL Chinese 6 Theaters in Los Angeles and you can check the films being presented here.