Followed (2019) review


Found footage is a genre of horror that’s tried and true. Does the new found footage movie, Followed, expand the possibilities of the genre? Or does it just tell a good, spooky story? Let’s discuss.


Followed, written by Todd Klick and directed by Antoine Le, is part of a new movement within the found footage films referred to as Screen Life Genre. These are movies where the found footage comes from computer screen captures.

Almost the entire movie is shown via screen captures. Besides a brief expository scroll through a website, the only time we leave the found footage is to watch an unseen, heavily breathing character upload these clips onto the Internet. These are brief moments, but I really enjoyed them. It keeps the found footage effect alive without slowing the momentum of the story. It’s also a clever device that creates an episodic feel to each clip.

We watch Followed through this character’s point of view. This is our reliable narrator. Yet, as the movie progresses, we start to question who this person could be and how they have access to these files.


Mike (Matthew Solomon) is the protagonist. The found footage we watch is shot and uploaded for his DropTheMike channel. He seems to be the typical millennial bro: bearded, wearing a beanie in warm weather, and living above his means.

He admits to feeling fear, but he’s not affected by it. Mike manipulates his friends and forces them into confronting their own fears at great personal risk.

He’s kind of a psychopath that way. Yet, there’s a real character arc here. In a gradual series of earned moments, Mike becomes fully formed. I was rooting for him by the end of the movie.

Found Footage-Followed-Courtesy of Viscape Arts

The rest of the characters could’ve easily been stock throwaways, but they’re well acted. I was concerned for them and worried about them when they weren’t on screen.

Jess (Kelsey Griswold) is Mike’s significant other and the breadwinner of the family. I say family because Mike clearly spends money and dotes on DropTheMike as if it was his first born son. Jess grounds Mike to the non-screen captured world.

She, along with Mike’s best-friend and director of photography, Christopher (Tim Drier), are the influences that make Mike want to be a better man. Christopher serves the role as the weary gentle soul who’s been touched by the spirit world. He warns Mike against trying to reach out to that realm.

Danni (Sam Valentine) is a friend to Mike and former love interest of Chris.’ She serves as the most emotionally balanced character in the film. She also represents humanity. And, for scale plus $200, she accompanies the group on a fateful shoot as a camera operator.

Wallace Fleischer (John Savage) is the human encyclopedia for the Hotel Lennox, a haunted hotel in L.A.’s skid row. He’s written a book on the hotel that Mike heavily relies on throughout the movie. Unfortunately for all involved, Wallace doesn’t remember an important detail about his research until it’s too late.

Nic (Caitlin Grace) is a short order cook of editors. She edits live on set and prefers to be left on her own to work. Nic spends a lot of time off screen and I was worried about her with good reason. Another character who isn’t a big part of the story is an Alley Drug Dealer (Karan Sagoo). This guy is not interested in being found on any footage and serves as a reminder that the real world can be just as dangerous as the spirit world.

Jump Scares

Jump scares have become more prevalent than ever in horror movies, such as The Nun. They are a staple of found footage flicks. If they’re overused, they can be tiring. From a business standpoint, they might even reduce the amount of times audience members may want to re-watch a movie. In Followed, there are just enough jump scares to create the perfect foreboding atmosphere that builds.

In fact, some of the jump scares serve as exposition. We learn the rules of how the haunting works in Hotel Lennox from them. Spirits walk freely around the hotel, especially around midnight and 3:00 AM. The footage starts to pixelate when there are spirits nearby. The heads of characters who are touched or harassed by spirits shake and pixelate. It kind of looks like the Scarecrow effect in Batman Begins.

There are a couple of classic ‘oh hell no’ jump scares in Followed. I don’t want to give a lot away. But, poor Christopher does witness a self decapitation of sorts in the hallway of the Hotel Lennox.

Found Footage-Followed-Courtesy of Viscape Arts

The Story

Mike’s YouTube channel, DropTheMike, is growing in popularity. He’s an energetic host that “posts sick and twisted videos every other day.” For a small operation, DropTheMic has high production values. Local retailer Haute Gothic (yep) pledges to sponsor $250,000 to the channel if it can reach 50,000 subscribers by the end of Halloween weekend.

In order to generate those likes, Mike ends up taking his crew to the haunted Hotel Lennox In Los Angeles’ Skid Row. He vows to stay in the Lennox all of Halloween weekend and post daily vlogs. He interviews Hotel Lennox historian Wallace Fleischer on his channel to hype the stay. When Wallace hears Mike’s plans he incredulously asks Mike, “But, you’re not going to stay there?”

Mike is able to secure the room that the serial killer Night Crawler, David Olmos, stayed in while he was committing his large number of horrific murders.

One camera is left on at all times. In this meta move, Mike and company are trying to generate their own found footage. And it works. As the hauntings become more numerous and safety conditions deteriorate, we start to learn more about the hotel from Christopher and Wallace, who makes an appearance via FaceTime.

Christopher, Danni, and Nic all want to abandon the vlog and the hotel and get out of the Lennox. Mike remains. He seems to have a connection to the hotel that he can’t quite understand. To complicate things, Jess informs Mike that she’s pregnant via FaceTime. Mike is now drawn to the hotel and the opportunity to provide for his growing family.

Followed relies on some reality based, ripped-from-the-clickbait ghost stories. The Hotel Cecil was a real hotel in downtown Los Angeles where Elisa Lam died after playing the elevator game. It’s also where the real life Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez, stayed during his killing days.

That may sound familiar. American Horror Story: Hotel was based on the same source material plus the murder castle designed by America’s first serial killer, H.H. Holmes. But Followed isn’t a sloppy rip-off. While it still sets up the rules and function of the Hotel Lennox, Followed relies on factual and fictional folklore as a filter for their world building.

You’ve seen how a hotel like this functions from the killer’s side ad nauseum. Let’s spend 93 minutes worth of the movie on the other half. It works.

When all hell starts to break loose, the hotel becomes as haunted as the Overlook in The Shining. Ghosts are everywhere. Some don’t mind that you’re there. Some don’t know that you’re there. None of them want to be nice to you. Even when there are scenes outside of the hotel, the Skid Row neighborhood setting is akin to something out of one of the Purge movies mixed with Eyes Wide Shut.

Found Footage-Followed-Courtesy of Viscape

The climax of Followed is something that you can piece together. It’s not something obvious that you see coming. But, you will figure it out before Mike does. After the arc he goes through up till that point, I immediately feared for his safety and rooted for him.

You have all the pieces and you know something the characters don’t know. In the end you have no clue how everything will ultimately resolve until it unfolds before your eyes. The storytelling is solid.

The Underlying Commentary

Good horror movies have an underlying commentary. In Followed, I felt there was a real examination of Millenials and social media.

As I mentioned, almost all of the movie is found footage that’s played for us chronologically. Some audience members may think this is far fetched. It’s a reality.

I follow several vlogs on YouTube. The relatively laid back channels only post 2 or 3 times per week. But these aren’t podcasts. These are heavily edited productions that feature dramatized vignettes that are inserted in the video.

That is a vicious cycle of creating and sculpting content for viewers. It goes way beyond trying to document every minute of every day via smart phones. This is creating a reality where you become a heightened version of yourself.

That is the definition of acting on the improv stage. And there will have to be improvisation. Things that you treat with irreverence will suddenly become the most reverent things ever based on the whims of your followers.

Your morals become confused. Who are you today? And if the channel picks up the chance to become monetized the way Haute Gothic is willing to sponsor Mike? Good luck holding on to your reality.

Found Footage-Followed-Courtesy of Viscape Arts

There is a final reveal of who has been posting the videos to DropTheMike. It made me reflect. Are we all guilty of living vicariously through ourselves via our own social media presence? Are we strong enough to care? Bro…

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I’ll be honest. When I sat down to watch Followed, I wasn’t expecting much. What I got was something that was creepy, fun, and thought provoking. It doesn’t beat you over the head with morals. It’s not high brow.

The acting, which is the nuanced art of actors acting like normal people who are acting, was believable. The story had enough turns and jump scares.

You will be able to figure it out gradually. The cinematography and score add to the building tension. The ending is final, absolute, and totally leaves the door open on a sequel. I recommend Followed.  It’s a solid addition to the found footage horror library.

That’s my take on Followed. Keep your eyes peeled for when it comes to a theater near you. Have you seen it? Let’s discuss in the comments.