Austin Film Festival Review: You won’t want to ‘Follow Her’

follow her
via Giddy Productions

Reviewed by:
Rating:
1
On November 8, 2022
Last modified:November 8, 2022

Summary:

An ambitious erotic thriller, 'Follow Her' can’t muster the confidence or coherence to give us a clear thesis, or the charisma to let audiences at least have a good time.

Erotic thrillers are in short supply as of late. It’s a rarity to get something that can be sensual, suspenseful, and sexy. In theory, Follow Her should be a breath of fresh air, and a return to a genre that gets little screentime in our current film landscape. Unfortunately, what unfolds instead is a clumsy, incoherent, and heavy-handed attempt to comment on a mountain of issues. 

In Follow Her, we meet Jess Peters (Dani Barker, who also wrote the film). Jess, a struggling actress who takes gig work to get by,  is also known by her online moniker J PEEPS. She has a streaming channel where she highlights creepy interactions at her various jobs. Her ultimate goal is to go viral on the site where she streams, and thus, make her first steps towards being a full-time influencer, and maybe even get a shot at a legitimate acting gig.

Jess gets close when she accidentally forgets to blur out the face of the creep in her latest video. Of course, people love it when a creep gets exposed, so the clip takes off, helping her inch closer to the fame she deeply craves. When she gets her next gig, a writing job that pays well, she’s confident that this could be the last one she needs before finally hitting her stride. What unfolds is a suspenseful, yet clumsy and incoherent ride that doesn’t really land at all. 

Follow Her is an ambitious film: it wants to examine Jess’s morally gray ethics regarding her streaming channel, the ills of social media, voyeurism, fetishism, and even the economy. That is a heavy serving of concepts for any film to carry. However, Follow Her buckles like a weak paper plate under so much ambition.

Even the admirable, committed performances and chemistry of leads Barker and Luke Cook (who plays Jess’ captor later on in the film) can’t save the movie from its heavy-handed and overstuffed nature. The tone can also shift quite quickly, making for an uneven experience. Follow Her also rides an uncomfortable line of examining fetishes and just straight out exhibiting them, losing whatever commentary or ideas it has about them by falling into simply showcasing them.

It’s unclear, and while the best erotic thrillers blur the lines between danger and sex, they are crystalline in their ideas and have the confidence to show us exactly what we need to see. Indeed, even in the movie’s commentary about social media, the only message that seems to resound is “social media = BAD,” with attempts at nuance that merely show up as questions asked, but never even answered, or interrogated in a way that makes us want to sit with them longer.

It’s a shame that such an ambitious erotic thriller can’t muster the confidence or coherence to give us a clear thesis, or the charisma to let us at least have a good time. While I’m always happy to see an erotic thriller emerge in our current film landscape, I know that we can do better than Follow Her.

Austin Film Festival Review: You won't want to 'Follow Her'
Utter Failure

An ambitious erotic thriller, 'Follow Her' can’t muster the confidence or coherence to give us a clear thesis, or the charisma to let audiences at least have a good time.