By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Too many clichés in violent found-footage horror movie.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Throughout movie, there's struggle between scrambling for viewers/sponsorship money and preserving life and safety; for main character, the former wins most of the time. There's change of heart at the very end, but no follow-through. Conclusion asserts that, for every negative online star who quits, there's another to take his or her place.
Positive Role Models
Characters all represent clichés and caricatures of YouTube stars. While main character does have a last-minute change of heart, it comes to nothing. Brief stereotype of a gay character.
Violence & Scariness
Dead bodies. Gory photos. Scary stuff/noises. Severed head. A figure's head snaps back all the way. Mysterious figures: person with hacksaw, masked figure. Dead rat. Tongue covered with maggots. Bloody detached eyeball. Bloody nose. Arguing. Spoken violent stories about a "suicide bridge" (off of which a mother threw her baby and herself), a serial killer, and a ghost cat in a noose.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Engaged couple kisses. Innuendo.
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Several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "bastard," "goddamn," "d--k," "idiot," "testicles," "butt," "take a dump." Exclamatory uses of "Jesus." Middle-finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Though YouTube isn't mentioned, the movie is about vloggers trying to get more subscribers.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character takes prescription anxiety meds. Another character passes around "ambies" (i.e., Ambien). Mention of "neighborhood drug dealers."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Followed is a found-footage horror movie about a vlogger who tries to spend three nights in a haunted hotel with three crew members. Expect glimpses of dead bodies, blood, lots of spooky images and sounds (a figure's head snaps back all the way, a figure wields a hacksaw, etc.), gross imagery (gory photos, a maggot-covered tongue, a detached eyeball), and violent verbal descriptions. Language includes many uses of "f--k" and several other words. An engaged couple kisses, and there's some sexual innuendo. A character takes prescription anxiety medicine; another passes around Ambien. The movie is trying to say something about internet celebrity and commerce, but it mostly falls back on clichés.
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Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
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What's the Story?
In FOLLOWED, an unseen figure copies a video on a computer screen and then starts watching videos posted by "DropTheMike." Mike (Matthew Solomon) makes videos about famous murder scenes. He's been offered a huge sponsorship if he can get to 50,000 subscribers by Halloween, so he asks his viewers what they'd like to see. The answer comes in, and Mike decides to spend three nights at the haunted Hotel Lennox in the room once occupied by a serial killer. After consulting with expert Wallace Fleischer (John Savage), Mike takes along his director of photography (DP), Chris (Tim Drier); sound person, Danni (Sam Valentine); and editor, Nic (Caitlin Grace), and sets up. At first, Mike is enthusiastic about the shoot, but before long, truly horrifying things begin to happen. Will Mike risk his sponsorship, or his life?
Is It Any Good?
Yet another tired example of the found-footage horror subgenre, this haunted hotel story mainly consists of junky, twitchy video footage and annoying characters who make poor decisions. Followed seems to be trying to say something about YouTube culture, exploitation, and advertising, but it adds up to not much more than an acknowledgment that these things exist. There's no other commentary or satire. The underlying story about ghost hunters blithely entering a haunted house while flippantly claiming that they don't believe in ghosts is one of the oldest clichés around, and the movie does little to dust it off and make it feel fresh.
The DropTheMike character is so enthusiastic -- he's a showman who's "on" all the time -- that he ends up feeling somewhat fake. And because he's so dialed up, when scary things start happening, they're not in the least surprising. Some of the secondary characters at least offer an interesting juxtaposition to him, but did they really expect poor editor Nic to work around the clock, cutting together the reams of footage? Putting the final nail in the coffin for Followed is the shaky video, which, following one of this genre's most obnoxious clichés, fizzles and twitches anytime anything scary is supposed to be happening. Unsubscribe to this one.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the violence in Followed. How much is shown, and how much is suggested? How does a movie's sound work to make unseen violence seem more threatening?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
What does the movie have to say about YouTube celebrity and livestreaming? How far will some go to earn subscribers and sponsorship money? How far is "too far"?
How does the movie depict drug use? What is the blue pill that Mike passes around? How is it different from Chris' prescription medication?
Why is the "found-footage" subgenre of horror so popular?
- In theaters: June 19, 2020
- On DVD or streaming: September 1, 2020
- Cast: Matthew Solomon, Sam Valentine, Tim Drier
- Director: Antoine Le
- Studio: Global View Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, violent/disturbing images, and brief drug material
- Last updated: December 4, 2022
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