Follow (2015)

Follow has caused a bit of controversy here at Gorepress Heights. Mostly because I really enjoyed it, and Sarah really didn’t. Perhaps it’s because her breadth of knowledge on the horror genre far surpasses my own, and I view a lot of films with an innocent, sometimes naive, almost child-like wonder – but I’m going to detail some of the reasons I thought it was a good film in its own right.

Follow was released in 2015, and has received average scores on rating sites overall. It’s an Owen Egerton film, spinning the story of a man’s steady descent into insanity, after receiving an early Christmas present from his lover – only to wake up to disaster. As a warning – this review is going to be pretty spoiler heavy from the outset.

Quinn (Noah Segan) is a painter and bartender, living with his girlfriend in a quiet neighbourhood. He has dreams of being accepted into art school, but so far? Nothing. The couple are sweet together, and the on-screen chemistry is palpable. Hayley Lu Richardson (Viv) plays his unbalanced, unstable partner. A few days before Christmas, she hands him a wrapped box as an early present – and inside is a gun. Quinn blacks out, and wakes the next morning to find the gun in his hand, and Viv dead upon the floor. Honestly, that’s kind of where the film started for me.

I like things that make me uncomfortable. I have a love/hate relationship with the squirming sensation I get when I’m watching something that feels tumultuous and unending – and this film was no exception. Segan‘s performance as a man reaching an edge he doesn’t know how to come back from is legitimately unsettling, and for me, provided enough of a car crash to not be able to look away. It seemed to be a very genuine insight as to how a series of poor decisions can send your life crumbling around you – though I can appreciate that some viewers may find this more frustrating than captivating.

It’s a shame that Richardson‘s character seemed to just tick the boxes of the “crazy girlfriend” adage. Granted, she’s dead for most of them film, so there’s not a lot to be done in terms of character progression, but “small, scared girl” and “crazed cheating monster” seem to be an almost lazy way of translating mental instability, when placed next to the slow and incremental demise of the protagonist.

Thana (Olivia Grace Applegate) and Ren (Merik Tadros) provide solid support, adding extra emotional dimensions to the story, and ultimately furthering Quinn’s mental crash. Thana inadvertantly becomes a true victim through sheer misunderstanding, and Applegate’s portrayal of a woman trapped by a murderer is believeable and unsettling. Going through his girlfriend’s possessions, Quinn finds a camcorder and an envelope. On the camcorder is a home video of Ren and Viv in bed together, whilst she stares unfeelingly at the lens. In the envelope, is a clearly hidden acceptance letter to art school. It’s really at this point that Quinn fully embraces his darker side, and the kill count starts to go up.

There are certain twists and turns to this story that are heart-wrenching, frustrating, and ultimately for me, made the film very watchable. I genuinely think Segan gave a great performance (although honestly I have a predisposed soft spot for “broken” men), and whilst the rest of the character development was sadly lacking, it made for a gripping watch.

Would I recommend this film to other people? Absolutely. However, knowing how differing our views have been here, perhaps with the caveat that if your thing is resolution – this maybe isn’t the film for you. A lot was left untied at the end, and I won’t lie that I found it a little jarring. Overall though, my unmolded wandering mind being what it is – I really enjoyed this film. I thoroughly endorse decent psychological-based horror, and for me it stood up to other films in its ilk.

Sure, it has its downfalls – but if you like car-crash television, inevitable mental breaks and straight up hammer smashing murder – you might want to give this a go.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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