REVIEW: Followers (2021)

dir. Marcus Harben.

In the early moments of his feature debut, writer/director Marcus Harben unexpectedly channels the 00’s Battlestar Galactica TV series: not in ways the show was acclaimed for, but in how much the opening reveals about what’s to come. It’s something the spoiler-phobic may wish to take into consideration, though it’s just one aspect of this found-footage feature.

Set across 50-days, the story follows four different students who move into a flat only to realise it’s haunted. The quartet record the hauntings to social media, which brings them millions of followers and sponsorship deals, though the students are left to face the ghostly consequences of their actions.

Driving the narrative is Jonty (Harry Jarvis), an influencer documenting his “journey” in the aftermath of a drunken rant on reality television. While he claims to be on a passage of growth and self-discovery, Jonty clearly craves attention and intends to do anything possible to attain it, regardless of how it affects his flatmates. This makes him a frustrating figure to follow, seemingly taking two-steps backwards for each step forward.

These actions put Jonty at odds with Pete (Daniel Cahill), a mature student whose anger masks his vulnerability, and leaves love-interest Amber (Erin Austen) unfortunately hurting in the aftermath. Aiding him throughout the proceedings are Zauna (Loreece Harrison), a documentary filmmaker who goes along with the plan as she believes “ghost stories sell”. Her involvement is a commentary on how, in order to tell their own stories, people of colour feel they must attach themselves to white stories first.

Considering its horror-roots, it’s a shame the ghostly elements fail to quicken the pulse. No matter how many people drop by to deliver exposition, these aspects feel undercooked compared to the examination of people’s relationships with social media and how they present themselves online; making this, in that regard at least, a less effective version of FrightFest 2019 hit, Death of a Vlogger.

⭐⭐

James Rodrigues

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