Followers, director Marcus Harben’s posthumously released influencer horror, is far better than it has any right to be.
In early 2021 (which seems like ages ago now doesn’t it?) Marcus Harben lost his battle with cancer. Never getting to see his comedy horror released to a wider audience. He did create a web comic about his experiences – you can read it here.
Interestingly Followers comes from the same studio as Anna and the Apocalypse, another comedy horror tragically unseen by its original creator, Ryan McHenry, due to his own death in 2015. If you haven’t seen Anna and the Apocalypse, McHenry also created the viral videos of Ryan Gosling not eating cereal. They’re hilarious.
But anyway, back to Followers.
Jonty Craig (Harry Jarvis) moves into a flat to start university. Also in the flat is Pete (Daniel Cahill) – an angry Scott studying for his PHD. Zauna (Loreece Harrison) – a documentary filmmaker from a poor area, and Amber (Erin Austen) – an insecure girl who likes attention. Jonty himself is about as privileged as they come, so of course, a bit of a dick. A self-proclaimed influencer, Jonty films everything for his vlog, including his housemates. He’s spoilt, self-centred and will do pretty much anything to increase his followers. As you can tell, all the characters are caricatures and stereotypes. There isn’t much development or depth to this, but that is part of the fun.
Not long after they move in, weird stuff starts happening in the apartment. Creepy images appearing on screens, drawers and cupboards opening by themselves, the usual. Jonty and Zauna decide to film what is happening and try and prove the existence of ghosts. This leads to a huge influx of new followers for Jonty, buzz around what is happening in the apartment and lots and lots of attention.
Alongside this, Amber is dealing with some personal demons with the help of Becky (Nina Wadia), a university guidance counsellor.
With the signs of the haunting escalating, rifts appear between the characters. The internet audience varies between addicted and sceptical, and the question arises over whether the flat is really haunted, or if Jonty is behind it all.
Followers is very twisty, keeping your attention on the increasingly ludicrous plot and the many-faced characters. There is an uneasy peace between them, with Pete constantly on the edge of rage, Zauna lamenting her traumatic childhood, Amber’s constant need for attention and Jonty just being a twat. You know that none of them can really be trusted, meaning that even though the comedy lands, the horror does as well. It is genuinely funny, and at times scary.
Followers doesn’t really show us anything we haven’t seen before. Comparisons to Host and Searching are inevitable. And they are arguably better films than this one. However, Followers is an enjoyable romp on balance.
Of course, there is a risk that you’ll only manage five minutes of these characters before you want to leave them for the ghosts, but if you can power through, it’s great fun.
Followers is being released in cinemas on March 18th.