F: Followed (2018)

Found footage movies! You love ’em or you hate ’em, and I seem to see a lot more of the latter emotion online. I regard it as another sub-genre, with entries worthy of respect, and some that should be tossed on YouTube and completely forgotten about. I found Followed to be pretty good, actually.

So what we are given is a up-and-coming video blogger named Mike (Matthew Solomon) who calls his vlog “Drop the Mike”. It’s about all sorts of unsavory subjects – suicides, gruesome murders. He’s gotten popular enough that a goth clothing line is willing to sponsor him to the tune of a quarter million if he can get his subscriber count to 50,000 by Halloween. He conducts a poll of his current subscribers and the almost-unanimous choice is the Lennox Hotel.

The Lennox is pretty transparently based on the Cecil Hotel, a skid row pile built in 1924 with a pretty horrifying history, including one time resident Richard Ramirez, “The Night Stalker”, and the disappearance of Elisa Lam – both of whom will referred to by different names, of course.

So Mike books two rooms for the Halloween weekend, one for himself and his camera crew, the adjoining one for his long-suffering editor, Nic (Caitlin Grace). The crew is his childhood friend and longtime cameraman on the vlog, Chris (Tim Drier) and sound op Dani (Sam Valentine). The manipulative Mike has booked Dani because Chris is sweet on her, and Chris wants nothing to do with this weekend. Did I mention the room booked is the one where the Lennox’s most notorious serial killer lived and cut up some of his victims?

Another of the found footage movies I really liked, Found Footage 3-D, did a very nice Scream-style breakdown of the rules for found footage movies, one of which is “Why do they keep shooting when everything is going to hell?” Mike’s been a vlogger for a long time, and almost automatically puts his cameras down where he can record conversations, often much to the ire of his friends. One of the things which will drive Nic slowly to a breakdown (not the only reason, given the surroundings) is that she’s having to run through multiple video cards a night to keep the vlogstream going.

Also in the cast is John Savage, giving the movie some needed gravitas as a local writer and expert on the Lennox. giving us the obligatory “Wait you’re not going to actually stay there?” and providing some clues as the weekend from hell wears on.

There are some things a found footage flick like this won’t be able to follow through on, and one of those is a truly coherent climax to all the spooky hotel weirdness, but it does have a quite effective ending. It’s interesting to me that we’re still using the “electronics start glitching out when something unnatural approaches” from Marble Hornets (and Silent Hill), but I admit that effect still gets my pulse racing.

Besides, you knew in the first sentence of this post if you were going to watch it or not.

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