We’ve all seen channels on YouTube that rack up views and gain popularity by exploring the macabre. The vloggers in these channels usually visit old murder houses, haunted bridges and cemeteries in hopes that they might encounter a ghost or something worse. The riskier the situation is, the more people are likely to watch because deep down we all have the same sick curiosity but not all of us have the guts to go out and experience these places in real life so we live through these channels. Antoine Le’s FOLLOWED is about one such group of vloggers and the events that take place when they visit the haunted Lennox Hotel.
Mike (Matthew Solomon) is the creator and star of Dropthemike, a YouTube channel in which he visits and talks about haunted locations and the eerie stories behind them. He is loud, in your face and pretty much exactly like every YouTube star you’ve seen and hate. His channel has become quite popular and because of this he gets a sponsorship offer and a chance at $250,000 if he can manage to get fifty thousand brand new followers. In order to reach the new follower count, he sets out to spend the entirety of Halloween weekend at the notorious Lennox Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. This hotel has a troubling past as it has been host to numerous suicides, murders and even a real life serial killer. If this all sounds vaguely familiar its because it is. The Lennox Hotel is loosely based on the real life Cecil Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. All of the stories in this movie about the hotel are stories that have been tied to the Cecil in the past. The filmmakers even went as far as to mention the night stalker, Richard Ramirez and rebranding him as “The night crawler,” all of which I found very charming.
I may be a little biased, as I’ve always had an interest in the history of the real life Cecil Hotel but FOLLOWED immediately drew me in with this premise. So much so, that I was completely unbothered by the shooting style. (First person POV is my least favorite of the horror genre)
With the hotel booked for the weekend, Mike sets out to wrangle his camera crew to join him on his adventure. He enlists the help of his director of photography Chris (Tim Drier), his editor Nic (Caitlin Grace) and Danni (Sam Valentine) to help with sound recording. Although reluctant at first, the group ultimately agrees after Mike promises them a decent payday.
Solomon, Drier, Grace and Valentine all do a terrific job playing off of each other. Their dialogue and comradery throughout the film is genuine and they really sell it. Their back and forth is similar to conversations and situations you would have if you and your friends were to stay in a haunted hotel for the night and they were very relatable. In the first few minutes of my watching FOLLOWED I definitely had a distaste for Mike as he was full of himself and obnoxious, but Solomon does a great job in playing Mike and making the viewer really come around. Towards the end of the film I found myself rooting for him and his friends.
The effects used in the film were practical but in my opinion they were very effective. Although some of the effects looked a little fake, Le did a great job at building dread throughout the film. A lot of the scares weren’t about what you saw, they were about the buildup and anxiety leading up to what you saw. There were numerous ‘Blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’ scares that I just loved catching.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed FOLLOWED. It was fun, creepy and is definitely worth your time. The actors really sold it for me and Antoine Le did a terrific job navigating through the winding halls of the Lennox Hotel by making us feel like we were really watching these Youtube videos as they were happening.