Followers review – found-footage influencer horror turns haunting into clicks | Movies


It’s surprising that there hasn’t yet been a classic film about influencers, with these modern-day narcissists now regularly being put in the cinematic pillory in the way sleazy politicians, greedy financiers or fictional movie stars once were. This frenetic horror-comedy debut by Marcus Harben – who sadly died last year – has a few sharp moments, but never quite reconciles its two sides to cleanly deliver the social-media skewering it’s obviously itching to.

Posh-boy influencer twerp Jonty (Harry Jarvis), permanently skewed of baseball cap, is a minor-league entity online as he continues his “journey” at college. But he is in his element when he moves into a house with documentarian Zauna (Loreece Harrison) and fellow vlogger Amber (Erin Austen). When they keep encountering spooky disturbances – unexplained outbursts of 90s rave music, apparitions on laptop screens, unquiet kitchen fittings – Jonty begins to smell the clicks. As he posts the evidence online, his follower count explodes, even if some people, including their other housemate, acerbic alcoholic Scotsman Pete (Daniel Cahill), believe he is staging it all.

With the gang rigging up Paranormal Activity-style cameras around their abode, or documenting their rovings handheld, Followers mostly follows the traditional found-footage format. It does, though, update it for the zeitgeist with regular segments featuring online commenters posting reaction videos – which capture the inane cacophony of the social media age. But the knowingness of this satire is incompatible with the fear of the unknown on which true horror depends, especially during the film’s jumbled early stages. Some of the characterisation is a bit uneven too: one minute Pete is denouncing the “Jontsquad”, the next he is happily colluding in the videos.

Followers settles into more of a groove as the supernatural element takes hold fully, with Nina Wadia’s chirpy therapist also looking to boost her online numbers by getting in on the action. Harben clearly put some thought into the final twist, but it mostly only works on the horror front, and doesn’t really have much to do with the previous commentary on self-obsession. Jarvis is capably obnoxious as Jonty, but he is a bit generic as a creation; not quite the great influencer-monster cinema is crying out for.

Followers is released in cinemas on 18 March.

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