The Horrors of Social Media
2.3 billion people use social media every day, and the average person has 5.54 social media accounts. 83% of stalking incidents start online. So, what will you do when your “friends” turn your future into terror? This is the premise at the heart of “Followers”. Thirty-something Brooke Marie (Amanda Delaney) is a fitness vlogger, brand ambassador, yoga enthusiast, and YouTube personality with a million-strong following. Brooke has recently found love (via the Internet) with a fellow YouTube personality and fitness guru, Caleb (Justin Maina). They record nearly every moment of their relationship, from Caleb jumping into bed to wake Brooke to Brooke’s seeking revenge with a bucket of ice water. So, what are two fit, young vloggers to do to celebrate their one-year anniversary? Well, camping, of course.
In a concurrent story, documentarians Nick (Nishant Gogna) and Jake (Sean Michael Gloria) are looking to shed some light on the exposure inherent in social media, and how free we have become with our personal information online. They have selected a random, local YouTube celebrity to follow in order to take their online ‘Likes’ into the real-world and meet their star face-to-face, thereby proving that everything you give away online can lead to your real-time locations. Most of us know this but ignore it.
Caleb and Brooke have gone camping to celebrate a year together and they are without Wi-Fi. They drink some champagne and wine to celebrate, before retiring to their tent for sexual fun. Somewhat predictably, Brooke awakens in the middle of the black night to footsteps around their camp and she wonders what is lurking in the woods. And yes, I am stopping my summary here.
“Followers” is a curious, multi-faceted film that never quite plays out as horror and actually feels more like a solid social commentary. The commentary is largely directed at our technological world, especially social media. Some of the film’s most benign lines give a sharp-witted view of our modern world. It is a clever and insightful view of social media from, ironically, behind yet another lens. As a world of voyeurs, we have become numb to the ramifications of our own interactions: we simply continue to blindly follow an electronic trend that leaves us open and vulnerable. It is important to understand the mindset of the film since the ensemble cast’s acting furthers the film’s underlying message; while the actual story here takes a back-seat.
As Brooke and Caleb, Delany and Maina have a solid, believable chemistry on-screen: they appear to truly enjoy being in one another’s company and even their awkward, tension-filled moments feel sincere. Director Ryan Justice paid careful attention to casting two personalities that jive in a realistic sense besides depicting their individual tropes well.
“Followers” fails completely at offering up much in the way of horror but it succeeds smartly as social commentary. It has a bizarre, twist ending that seems to inject a religious commentary into the mix.
Shot entirely on hand-held cameras, “Followers” says a lot with very little, and for this, you cannot help but find a certain level of appreciation for Director Justice’s talents.