A statement on fame. A statement on consent. A statement on privacy. A statement on the state of the world today and the way social media controls so much of our daily lives. Welcome to the wild journey that is Sylvia Caminer’s Follow Her.
Written by Dani Barker, who stars as Jess Peters, much of the opening act of Follow Her, ahem, follows Jess as she navigates the life of a content creator in much the way that Barker had previously in her web series, Starvival. Jess is a chameleon who changes identities, appearances and accents regularly while constantly livestreaming many a real life interaction as well as filming content of a more kink-friendly variety (Follow Her opens with Jess acting as a Russian Domme for example) to upload at a later date to her Live Hive page, an OnlyFans-style paysite. Trying to become more financially independent (Especially after her father announces he’s no longer going to pay her rent) through Live Hive (Monetization occurs when you hit the Top 10) in addition to trying to break through into more mainstream writing and acting jobs means that Jess is always “on”. And it’s in a scene early on involving a privacy issue with one of her clients where we see how far Jess might go to attain that dream.
The main narrative really kicks off following a back and forth via email where Jess agrees to meet “Tom” upstate to help him finish writing his “Erotic Thriller” for an advance and additional pay upon completion of the script. For safety’s sake, Jess asks friend/fellow content creator Kai (Eliana Jones) to travel with her but after a paid gig comes up, she bails at the last minute. We see that Jess wouldn’t necessarily do anything for money but more that the struggle is real, she’s always hustlin’ and that Jess has been living in this world for so long that maybe she considers herself invincible. Or maybe it’s desperation. Whatever the case, dear reader, she decides to travel alone to meet the mystery man. We know!
It doesn’t hurt that “Tom” (Luke Cook) turns out to be a charming Australian whose last name is actually “Brady” (And yes, Patriots fans, the GOAT is brought up). But from there it’s bad decision after bad decision as Jess (Introducing herself as “Lucy” cuz endless chameleon) agrees to follow him back to his place, THROUGH THE WOODS, to see the script which he conveniently did not bring with him. Oh, and his place also happens to be a secluded, remodeled BARN (You know, a place that typically has barely any windows???) with some choice decor inside. And the reception is spotty at best. Are you red flagged out, too? Again, Jess is far some stupid but it might be that potential invincibility complex that leads her decision to just say “Fuck it!” and record what she can on her phone as well as through hidden cameras in both her glasses and a cat pendant.
When it comes time to finally read the script, “Classified Killer”, Jess finds that it’s a retelling of events that have transpired up until now with the main character even called “Jess”… (Editor’s note: Insert Edvard Munch “The Scream” emoji here, please). From there, Follow Her turns into a bonafide thriller with Tom and Jess engaging in a dangerous erotic game of cat and mouse. But who is the hunter and who is the prey? It’s in the vein of many a classic Alfred Hitchcock film or even a modern day Basic Instinct to an extent with composer Alexander Arntzen’s stirring score evoking the feel of both by channeling Bernard Hermann and Jerry Goldsmith respectively. Accenting the overall mood is some chilling cinematography by Luke Geissbuhler especially once Tom and Jess meet to set up the seclusion of not only the location but also of this mental sparring session between the two leads once at the barn. And if you thought this psychological ramp up was something then just you wait until an even bigger reveal that M. Night Shyamalan wishes he could pull off still.
Follow Her hits Cinema Salem at 415 PM EST on Saturday, April 29th for its’ New England Premiere as part of the 2023 Salem Horror Fest and features a Q & A from director Sylvia Caminer. For more info head here and then head here for the rest of the remaining 2023 program.