Bodies Bodies Bodies Poster from A24 Gets You Ready for the Trailer

In recent years, social media has become more than just a way to make new friends and stay in touch with old ones; it’s now possible to become a celebrity by simply filming yourself doing random things and posting the videos for the world to see. People use their YouTube channels and TikTok feeds to share their videos, or content, to become internet famous and even to get paid. The indie thriller Follow Herwhich screened at this year’s Fantaspoa Film Festival, uses content creators to imaginatively turn the tables on some common genre tropes.

Follow Her immediately introduces us to Jess, played by Dani Barker, as she films herself torturing a man locked in a freezer, begging her not to stop. Jess has a channel called ‘Classified Crazies’ on a social media platform called The Hive, where she posts videos of herself doing degrading things with men for money. Jess is an aspiring actress and screenwriter who answers classified ads from these men and promotes her channel as exposing bad guys to protect the public, but the film ultimately poses the question of who the real protagonist of the story is.

Jess has a cat named Squeakers and lives in apartment owned by her father, while making money from the ads she responds to, with the hope of monetizing her channel if she can make the Top 10 on The Hive. After answering an ad for a gum commercial, which turns out to be a man who wants to tickle her to satisfy his fetish, she posts a video of the encounter and accidentally shows the man’s face. She then must decide whether to leave the video online or delete it to protect the man’s identity. When an account with millions of followers shares the video, causing it to go viral, Jess gains thousands of new subscribers and decides to leave the video up.

Expertly directed by Sylvia Caminer, Follow Her relis on a clever script written by Dani Barker, who gives an outstanding performance as Jess. The film brilliantly causes the viewer to empathize with her, while realizing she is increasingly unlikable as the story progresses. Jess frequently wears glasses that have a tiny camera attached and carries a small pin with a camera, so she can livestream anything anywhere anytime. Does she really want to help people or is she obsessed with becoming internet famous? Despite the fact her father keeps telling her to get a real job, while also reminding her that filming people without their consent is an invasion of privacy, Jess answers an ad seeking a writer for an erotic screenplay, “in the vein of Hitchcock.” This is when the real fun begins.

Luke Cookwho you might recognize as Lucifer from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, plays the provocative Tom Brady, who wants to hire Jess to write the ending to his screenplay. Jess is frantically trying to get a cell signal to let her followers know where she is, since her friend Kia (Eliana Jones), who was supposed to go with her to meet Tom, canceled at the last minute. When Tom asks Jess to go to his house with him so he can pick up the script they’re supposed to be working on, she notices the first of many red flags. Tom’s house turns out to be a barn in the middle of nowhere, and regardless of the fact he paid her a hundred dollars just for showing up, Jess is fixed on obtaining cell service. She seems to be more concerned with the fact she is unable to livestream than she is about her safety.

Luke Cook and Dani Barker have a sizzling onscreen chemistry that is impossible to ignore as Jess and Tom begins on a twisted game of cat-and-mouse. Each time Jess attempts to steer the conversation towards the thriller she’s supposed to be co-writing, Tom does something to distract her, like kissing her. When Tom finally lets Jess read the screenplay for ‘Classified Killer,’ she is horrified to discover the story is happening in real-time; every aspect of her day has been documented in the script. She is surrounded by cameras and is the star of a film in which she must try and survive until the end, and all of it is being livestreamed to her followers.

Jess is eventually invited to join a group of filmmakers, who call themselves The Collective, and have been watching her for a long time. Their goal is to create “real content” with real people, making those who want to be internet celebrities infamous. The final act of Follow Her ingeniously reveals Jess’ true motives, while also leaving a lot up to the audience’s imagination. Cook is wickedly charming as Tom and his playful back-and-forth with Jess is both delightful and terrifying. Ultimately Barker’s remarkable portrayal of Jess forces us to confront our obsession with internet celebrities, as well as our own online presence. The fact that Follow Her succeeds at being fun, meta, and thought-provoking, while also being a low budget, female-led project, makes this an exceptional movie.

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