Follow Her Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Classified Films
Directed by Sylvia Caminer
Written by Dani Barker
2022, 95 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest UK Premiere on August 28th
Dani Barker as Jess Peters
Luke Cook as Tom Brady
Eliana Jones as Kai
Mark Moses as Richard
Inspired by her own online misadventures, Dani Barker's horror screenwriting debut follows a wannabe social media influencer as she navigates the terrors of CraigsList's jobs boards. Aspiring actress and Internet star Jess (Barker) keeps herself amused - and paid - by replying to weird ads on CraigsList. Meeting a series of strange men in shady hotel rooms, Jess logs these unusual 'auditions' - usually fetish play masquerading as legit modelling or acting work - as fodder for her online webseries. Hey, it's not kink-shaming if the creeps are literally tricking and manipulating their would-be victims into it. That's just tit-for-tat. Or feet-for-tat, if you will.
After being tied up and tickled by a dude claiming to be hiring for a gum commercial, Jess heads onwards and upwards to her next 'audition' - helping a guy finish his erotic screenplay. In a remote park, Jess meets Tom Brady (Luke Cook); an outwardly charming, funny artist, who lures Jess back to his equally remote shack. What could go wrong?
Creator and star of the YouTube series 'Starvival' (episodes include "$50 an hour to be tickled" and "Show me your Boobs"), Barker clearly knows her Internet weirdos. Follow Her seems like a natural, if somewhat obvious progression of the theme, taking an already creepy concept to its logical conclusion. Tom Brady's game is an obvious one (no, not American football, probably something to do with feet and murder), but Barker and director Sylvia Caminer eke that out too, keeping the audience guessing - and Jess on her toes.
Clearly Tom Brady is up to no good. We know it, Tom Brady knows it, and Jess knows it too. But what is the charismatic Aussie really after? The pair's cat-and-mouse play is a compelling one, with both Jess and Tom Brady giving as good as they get. While Brady's intentions are rarely in doubt, Jess is no oblivious damsel-in-distress, baiting and playing Tom Brady at his own game (again, not American football). Who, the film asks, is manipulating whom?
As a two-hander, it recalls Hard Candy, the recent Scare Me, or a sexy Creep. Barker is sensational as Jess, served well by her smart and unpredictable screenplay. Cook, too, impresses, even as his performance threatens to cross the line from animated to annoying. The pair's chemistry and sexual tension carries the film through its more predictable moments, and past the faintly ludicrous finale and disappointing closing scare.
A modern take on the erotic thriller, Follow Her balances cleverly subverted horror tropes with unpredictable twists and a sharply written central dynamic.
This film screened as part of FrightFest 2022. For more information on the festival, please visit www.frightfest.co.uk
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