Sylvia Caminer’s feature narrative directorial debut Follow Me is a twisted cautionary tale and a clever skewering of internet celebrity. Social media’s made thousands of people famous for doing nothing more than filming themselves putting on makeup or declaring themselves experts on some random topic. (No actual proof is necessary.) One video is sometimes all it takes to launch a lucrative career.
Follow Her’s protagonist, Jess Peters (Dani Barker), hopes the road to financial success is paved with the online videos she surreptitiously films of men in compromising positions. Need a dominatrix to lock you in a freezer? Message Jess. Looking for a woman to tie up and tickle? Jess is your woman if the price is right.
Jess is adept at switching up accents and changing her appearance, almost as if each of these short gigs is just an audition for real work in front of the camera. She uses her skills as a struggling actor to make her performances for these men with weird fetishes entertaining. And when one video of a tickling man catches the attention of an influencer with millions of followers, Jess thinks she’s about to enter the money zone and achieve a top 10 spot on her preferred social media platform, The Hive.
The video’s gone viral, but there’s a problem. The software used to blur the face of the subject she’s filming malfunctioned, and the face of the tickler is briefly exposed.
She’s got a cat named Squeakers to support and a desire for fame, so she’s torn over whether she should remove the video and protect the man’s identity. It shouldn’t even be a question but Jess, desperate to keep her new followers, leaves it up – morals and ethics be damned.
Jess’ The Hive channel seems to be taking off when she accepts work from a writer requesting her help finishing a screenplay. Equipped with glasses that have a tiny camera, her cell phone for shooting video, and a cat pin that’s also a hidden camera, Jess heads out to the middle of nowhere to meet Tom Brady. No, not the NFL quarterback.
Tom (Luke Cook, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) hires her to collaborate on the ending of a screenplay he describes as being in the vein of Hitchcock. He’s a handsome guy and doesn’t come off as the type who’d slice her stomach open to have a peek inside when they meet, so Jess does everything she shouldn’t do and agrees to accompany him to his isolated home. Which is actually a barn…without a neighbor in sight…and no internet or cell phone service.
As it turns out, Jess is forced into participating in a deadly game in which no one’s bothered to fill her in on the rules. It also turns out that Jess is about to learn what it means to forever be famous for being the subject of one incredibly damning video.
Barker and Luke Cook steam up the screen, and as they engage in a horrifying game of cat and mouse, the roles of hero and villain become interchangeable. Jess’s obsession with internet fame reflects the world we live in, and in her we see everything that’s unhealthy and wrong about social media.
Dani Barker not only stars in what’s basically a two-hander but also wrote the screenplay. Barker does such a fantastic job as Jess that even when the character does the stupidest things, the audience remains invested in keeping her alive. Even after it’s obvious she’s filming these men not to expose their sordid sexual turn-ons, as her channel’s name – “Classified Crazies” – suggests, Jess remains likable enough that we hope she survives.
Director Sylvia Caminer and actor/writer Dani Barker’s Follow Her paints a disturbing picture of someone obsessed with becoming internet famous. Driven by two outstanding performances, this psychological horror film should be mandatory viewing by any wannabe influencer.
Running Time: 1 hour 35 minutes Directed by Sylvia Caminer Written by Dani Barker Produced by Michael Indjeian, Sylvia Caminer, Dani Barker Cast: Luke Cook, Dani Barker, Eliana Jones. and Mark Moses
Follow Her screened at the 2022 Screamfest Horror Film Festival held October 11th – 20th at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Los Angeles.