The Follower

Found footage films remain a heated topic of debate among horror fans and indie auteurs. Some see them as lazy, overdone and cheap, while others (this author included) revel in the voyeurism, brutal honesty and visual claustrophobia they reveal. Now France’s Kévin Mendibourne takes the leap from short film to feature with this uneven entry into the genre.

Like most films of its ilk, The Follower plays off a simple premise. David, a ghost-hunting video blogger, visits the house of Carol, a strange, beautiful young woman who lives in an old house with her grandmother. She’s been experiencing violent ghostly episodes in her house and has called on David to help her. Ultimately, he gets more than he bargained for and finds himself caught in the middle of something beyond his field of expertise. With a little more thought and patience, it could have been very effective, but instead the story gets lost in the film’s internal issues.

“…the big-eyed tortured soul of Barbara Steele with a touch of Jean Rollin romanticism.”

First, lead actor Nicolas Shake, who plays David, lacks the charisma to be a highly followed video blogger on any subject. Most of the time, he comes off as a cut-rate James Franco in a man bun, which makes scenes where he spurns the advances of Carol (played by the way-hotter-than-him Chloé Dumas) completely ridiculous. Lines like “I didn’t come here to find love. I came here to find ghosts,” don’t help, either.

Then there’s the supporting actors Benjamin Polounovsky and Boris Anderssen Comar, who play Frank and Mister Kabovsky respectively. Polounovsky hams it up as David’s friend by sporting a broad East Coast accent that struggles to bury his European tones, while Comar does a Tommy Wiseau-worthy Christopher Walken impression.

Finally, the dialog is simply painful at times (see above), though that can be the result of English not being the filmmaker’s native language. Even the plot holes could be forgiven if a little more time were taken to flesh out the characters’ motivations just enough to bring them into the second dimension.

Despite its flaws, however, The Follower, can be quite enjoyable as a fun popcorn flick on a dark Saturday night. Mendibourne actually delivers a solid jump scare or two, and he clearly knows his way around a camera, serving up some impressive shots along the way including one indelible image of David emerging in a mirror.

“Comar does a Tommy Wiseau-worthy Christopher Walken impression.”

Some of the acting is noteworthy, too. Chloé Dumas’ Carol nods to the big-eyed tortured soul of Barbara Steele with a touch of Jean Rollin romanticism, and Paul Bandey stands out in his bit role as a local shopkeeper who warns David about the danger of meddling in local affairs.

Even the story strays from the path by taking a surprising turn at the end. It points to one direction in the beginning only to end up somewhere completely different by the finale.

The Follower won’t change the world, but that was never its intention. As watchable, entertaining fun, it succeeds. It could have been memorable if only a little more time had been spent on the writing but, instead, it’s the vehicle to launch Kévin Mendibourne’s career. At least we know he’s capable.

The Follower (2017) Directed by Kévin Mendibourne. Written by Vincent Darkman and Kévin Mendibourne. Starring Nicolas Shake, Chloé Dumas Benjamin Polounovsky, Boris Anderssen Comar, Peter Lamarque, Paul Bandey and Sara Tekaya.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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