TL;DR – Out of all the things I expected to fell when I sat down to watch this movie, dull was not one of them, but here we are.
Score – 1.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is are some mid-credit scenes
Follow Me (No Escape) Review
I have to be upfront before we get started. Today was a bit of a milestone because it was the first time since March (when we looked at The Legend of Baron To’a) that I have been able to go to a regular showing of a film in a cinema. So I may have gone into this film with some unconscious higher expectations than I probably should have. However, all that said and done did I pick a good choice from my first film in a long time? Unfortunately, the answer to that would be a hard no.
So to set the scene, Cole (Keegan Allen) is a stream/influencer/online personality/ etc. who can get tens of thousands of people tuning in when he goes live. He is always about finding extreme situations to film for that #Content. Well, when his friend and fellow streamer Dash (George Janko) lets him know of this super exclusive escape room set up by this cashed-up Russian Alexei (Ronen Rubinstein) he jumps at the opportunity. Well, a couple of months later and Cole, Dash, Cole’s girlfriend Erin (Holland Roden), and their friends Thomas (Denzel Whitaker) & Maya (Tia Valentine) find themselves on a first-class flight to Russia. With no idea what will be waiting for them when they arrive.
Now, I am going to be very critical of this film, but before I do that, I want to point out the parts of the film that do work. The cinematography is quite good, with the use of light and darkness that pops in places. This is combined with some sharp editing to create some exciting sequences most notably in the dance club. Also, the overlay they used for those moments when they showed the vantage from the stream-side all felt authentic. Down to even the comments that flashed on the screen and the amount of emojis-to-text there would be. To add to this, a lot of this film is in Russian, and they don’t subtitle anything. This was a good choice because it did add a layer of danger. After all, you can never be sure what anyone is saying. It would almost be worth watching the film again with subtitles to see what they were saying … almost.
Because of the structure of this film, it is hard to dive into the weeds without revealing the film’s hand. So what we will do is in the next paragraph we will give some more vague outlines of the film and then in the following section we will go more in-depth and dissect the ending.
The first big problem this film has is in its cast of characters. For a movie like this to work, you need to care about the characters or at least some of them, and that is simply not the case. I didn’t care about Cole and his need always to get that #Content, his whole character is summed up in the fact that after his girlfriend was almost dragged away by some thugs, he was more interested in if there was any footage. Dash is just as bad, and the rest of the characters have so little development; it is a case of why bother. Because of this lack of character, I found the rest of the film honestly quite dull instead of tense as the film hopes. I will say that at a couple of moments in the movie where a big moment happens, they pull back all the music and sound for these sonically dead moments. Which might have landed a bit better if the absence of sound didn’t mean that all the people in the cinema could here was the chorus of The Greatest Showman belting through the walls from next door. If I had cared more about the film, I would have been annoyed by that, but instead, it was almost amusing. Also, you can lampshade that you are ripping off Die Hard (also Now You See Me among others) but that does not change the fact that you are ripping off Die Hard.
Now we need to dial into the ending, so there will be major [SPOILERS] from here on in. There is a big reveal moment in the film that I am sure the filmmakers were hoping for gasps but instead if the audience in my cinema was any guide, it was more sighs. Because we only ever see anything from Cole’s perspective, you feel the ending coming a mile away. For me the moment he went back in the Escape Room inside the Escape Room I knew it was heading in only one real direction and that was confirmed with the elevator. This means that all the torture porn feels like a waste of time, also still a little creepy that Cole would watch it all. It was made worse by the slapdash way they revealed that everyone was in on it (which does not line up all that well with was we saw). It also does not make sense because we see them planning it online in the end credits and anyone who has ever watched a Twitch stream knows that there would have been trolls trying to spoil him in the comments from the moment he got on that plane. Which also means they all went along with killing off all the people of colour first so the white guy could survive which well … yikes? The most interesting part of this film was when I was walking out of the cinema wondering who actually would be charged for the murder in that situation?
In the end, do we recommend Follow Me? Honestly no, not even in a hate watching a bad film kind of way. If you would like to watch a film that explores this kind of thing a lot better, I would recommend Searching or Nerve,
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Follow Me
Directed by – Will Wernick
Written by – Will Wernick
Music by – Crystal Grooms Mangano
Cinematography by – Jason Goodell
Edited by – Cris Mertens
Production/Distribution Companies – Escape Productions & StudioCanal
Starring – Keegan Allen, Holland Roden, George Janko, Denzel Whitaker, Tia Valentine, Ronen Rubinstein, Pasha D. Lychnikoff, Kimberly Quinn, Dominic Pace, Emilia Ares, Dimiter D. Marinov, Emily Hinkler, Elizabeth Hinkler, Yevgeniy Kartashov, Andrei Runtso & Daniyar
Rating – Australia: MA15+;