Social media commentary in movies and television is practically at an overflow, making it all the more rare when a project is able to capture potent insight. Follow Her is just that type of film—singular in its approach on the topic, this horror/thriller tackles the seedy world of live streaming content. Two female creatives in director Sylvia Caminer and writer/lead actress Dani Barker provide a feminine touch and fresh perspective. Barker’s double duty makes it all the more impressive, serving as a veritable showcase of her scream queen capabilities. How far would you go to be famous?
Jess (Barker) is an aspiring actress that drops just about anything in order to try out for open auditions. Jess lives in a cushy apartment with her cat, working hard at her online persona as J-Peeps. If her web series can make it into the Live Hive top ten, she will start earning very real money. After Jess’s filthy rich dad breaks the news to her that he plans on moving away upstate and selling the apartment she currently resides in, Jess is thrown into defense mode. How will she pursue her dreams if she is forced to pay rent? Jess answers an ad searching for screenwriting help on an erotic thriller to possibly help score some cash. She brings along various hidden cameras too, just in case Jess spots content for her web series.
Follow Her takes a little while to get to the meat of the story, spending its time getting us acquainted with Jess and her personality. When Jess finally meets up with charming, gorgeous Tom (Luke Cook, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Katy Keene), I was fully invested in wherever Dani Barker was planning to take us next. There is immediately something off about Tom, but Jess cannot quite put her finger on it. He needs someone to help him formulate his script’s ending, but he conveniently hasn’t brought the script with him. Jess will need to accompany him deep into the woods, way out to a creepy farmhouse. He promptly pays Jess $100 for her time before they head off. Potential seduction, meaningful new job, or creepy killer? Maybe the script, titled Classified Killer, will hold the answers…
Tom appears rich, and mysterious, but what is he hiding? Jess sets up a hidden camera above his fireplace, and plays the piano briefly; weirdly enough, Tom claims that he does not play. Follow Her carefully tows the line between psycho-sexual thriller and playful horror film. As secrets are revealed and true intentions made clear, Jess finds herself trapped in a “barn” with a complete stranger. Only in the final ten minutes or so does the film completely unravel. While I took issue with the ultimate conclusion, Follow Her is nevertheless a fascinating meditation on the undiluted stressors of social media. Barker and Cook play well off their energies—Cook in full psychotic mode is extremely entertaining, and both actors get to toy with wonky accents. I cannot wait to see what Barker has up her sleeve next!
Follow Her screened at 2022’s Popcorn Frights Film Festival.