Have you ever been watching Deathtrap and wished it was a more serious horror-thriller than the comedy it is? Then director Sylvia Caminer and writer-star Dani Barker’s Follow Her is for you. They throw a bit of Dot The I and Cam in for good measure. For anyone familiar with those titles, yes, that is a lot of meta coming at once.
Jess (Dani Barker) is an aspiring screenwriter with a burgeoning social media presence. Her niche is to take odd job postings, film them, blur out the people’s faces, and then post what happens on her channel. She often trends comparatively high, though she never quite cracks the coveted Top 10. But Jess sees that in her latest video, the blurring software glitched, and the man’s face can be seen. Against her first instinct, Jess leaves the footage up and searches for her next job.
Said gig is with Australian Tom Brady (Luke Cook); no, seriously, his name is Tom Brady, and he’s from Australia. Tom has written a screenplay but cannot crack the female lead, so he’s hired Jess to help him gain some perspective. The heat the two share simmers from their first meeting and slowly builds as he shows her his place. Then the cracks begin to show. Tom says contradictory things, alerting Jess that he might not be on the level. Pretty soon, what is real and what is part of their script versus her online videos all merge into one. That’s when things turn violent, potentially with deadly consequences.
Follow Her is captivating at every turn until it’s not. The setup is great, establishing Jess as more concerned about her views than the people she’s taping. Tom is the same, as he’s more interested in manipulating Jess for his own means than seeing her as a person. This puts the audience in a precarious position, as both leads are mean and unlikeable. But that is what makes the screenplay so compelling. By leaning hard into Jess and Tom’s parallels, Barker’s script keeps the tension of what will happen and to who immeasurably high.
“…what is real and what is part of their script versus her online videos all merge…”
Caminer’s direction also maintains the thrills. She effortlessly balances the personal drama involving Jess and her father with the horrific actions befalling her later on. Or is all of it staged to prove a point that anyone can make their audience see only what they wish? It is very compelling food for thought that sticks in the mind well after the credits roll.
However, the ending of Follow Her robs viewers of seeing if Jess learned anything or is the same. She must make a choice, and that choice is not seen. The ambiguity is likely to be part of the overall impact, letting audiences decide who Jess truly is. But it just seems like the filmmakers couldn’t make a hard decision.
However, the acting more than makes up for this bump in the road. Barker is brilliant. She turns Jess into someone audiences want to make it to the end despite her actions. Cook is smooth and creepy all at once, making Tom truly unpredictable. The two smolder in every scene together, even when viciously attacking each other. Their chemistry is high here.
Follow Her does not end in the best or most satisfying way. But until the last 20 seconds or so, the movie is engrossing. Barker and Cook give excellent turns in their respective roles while the direction balances the tone meticulously. The story structure and characters are compelling, while their actions are intentionally offputting. Plus, the meta-angle isn’t overplayed and is used just enough to make everyone watching question where the plot will go next.
"…Barker and Cook give excellent turns in their respective roles..."