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By Bobby LePire | March 13, 2023

The found footage film Followers begins as a Project X-style hijinx comedy before transitioning into a drama about the pitfalls of the influencer life. Then, writer-director Marcus Harben ventures into full-on horror territory. Does the filmmaker properly maintain the tone of his feature-length debut, or is he overwhelmed by the ambition of it all?

Jonty (Harry Jarvis) is excited to enter college and plans to record his journey through higher education. The (overly?) energetic man’s constant need for attention from his followers drives roommates Zauna (Loreece Harrison), Pete (Daniel Cahill), and Amber (Erin Austen) batty. Even worse, Jonty loves to pull pranks, though really they are just mean-spirited antics designed to harm or stupefy the recipient. So when it appears that their flat is haunted by a vengeful ghost, Zauna, Pete, and Amber are certain it’s just one of Jonty’s tricks. However, medium Becky (Nina Wadia) believes something sinister is coming after the roommates. Is there a ghost, or has Jonty finally gone too far?

Followers is interesting because Harben has written engaging characters to spend 83 minutes with. Zauna is especially fascinating, as she’s the first to help Jonty prove the ghost is real but is entirely upfront about why: Zauna wants the means to tell her story, which this will give her. Amber and Jonty begin dating, and seeing how that transforms them both adds needed dramatic stakes. Jonty could’ve been annoying, but the screenplay finds humanity in his desperation.

“…medium Becky believes something sinister is coming after the roommates.”

Beyond that, the satire of influencers is funny, well, at first. Unfortunately, the comedy does not delve deep enough to work totally. This is probably because there’s no baseline for Jonty before he vlogs his entire life. With that said, the ending is perfect and gives the main character a very satisfying arc.

Most importantly, the horror plotline proves to be the ace in the hole. Followers goes to an unexpected and wholly original arena when it comes to the ghost/haunting angle. Obviously, no spoilers, but it is shocking, creepy, and utterly absorbing. It also allows for great reachability, as picking up each clue will be rewarding.

With Followers, Harben has done something surprising: the filmmaker has made an original found footage title. The cast capably inhabits their characters and sells each crazy turn after the other. While the drama and humor are all well and good, it is the horror that shines. It’s original, intense, creepy, and wraps up in the most satisfying way possible.

Followers (2023)

Directed and Written: Marcus Harben

Starring: Harry Jarvis, Loreece Harrison, Daniel Cahill, Erin Austen, Nina Wadia, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Followers Image

"…unexpected and wholly original..."

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