Red Festival Poster
|Directed by||Antoine Le|
|Written by||Todd Klick|
|Music by||Jason Soudah|
|Edited by||Matthew Brewbaker|
Followed is a 2018 supernatural horror found-footage film written by Todd Klick and directed by Antoine Le in his feature directorial debut. The film is told almost entirely through a single screencast, in which a sequence of vlogs being watched on a website chronicle the events of the plot. It stars Matthew Solomon as DropTheMike, a controversial vlogger and social media celebrity, who is haunted by strange forces when he takes his weekly vlog to a reputably cursed hotel in order to gain more subscribers. It co-stars John Savage, Sam Valentine, Tim Drier, Caitlin Grace and Kelsey Paul, and is produced by Viscape Arts in association with Branded Pictures Entertainment. The film had its world premiere at Burbank International Film Festival on September 7, 2018 where it won the award for Best Horror/Thriller Feature Film.
A log-in box appears against black background on a video screen capture. In the recording, an unknown silhouetted user, seen via webcam, clicks through the computer's start-up functions. The user plugs in a USB flash drive, begins the transfer of a video file to the desktop, and opens the web browser, searching for "drop the mike". The user surfs through clickbait articles delivering news regarding the recent disappearance of controversial vlogger-of-the-macabre, DropTheMike (Matthew Solomon), whose last vlogs chronicle his stay at the Hotel Lennox, a reputably haunted hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. The user follows the link to the vlogger's website and watches the last few of his video uploads on the site.
Before his stay, DropTheMike is offered a $250,000 sponsorship from clothing retailer Haute Gothic if he can gain 50,000 subscribers by Halloween night in two weeks. He recruits three of his friends, Chris (Tim Drier) as director of photography, Danni (Sam Valentine) as Sound/Additional Camera, and Nic (Caitlin Grace) as on-site editor, to help him document a Halloween-special vlog at the Hotel Lennox. After an expository visit with Wallace Fleischer (John Savage), an author on the subject, Mike, Danni, Nic and Chris drive to the hotel where they attempt to stay for three nights.
DropTheMike shows his subscribers where some of the historically famous deaths took place, and reveals that they will be staying in the same room that 1980's serial killer, David Olmos (Ethan Alexander) lived while committing his murders. DropTheMike also unsuccessfully attempts to break into the hotel basement where just three years earlier Canadian tourist, Meghan Kim's body was found dehydrated and burnt in the hotel's heating system after complaints of a bad smell coming from the vents. There they meet a security guard (Christopher Martin) who happens to be a fan of DropTheMike's and promises to try to steal the basement key from the manager so that Mike can vlog in the boiler room. When DropTheMike asks if he can tell them anything about Meghan Kim's death, he suggests they research the Elevator Game.
DropTheMike researches and plays the Elevator Game, an urban legend that if one enters an elevator alone and goes to different floors in a specific sequence, one can communicate with, or even find themselves in, another dimension. The game was played by Meghan Kim (Sarah Chang) who was photographed by elevator surveillance by pressing the specific sequence of floor buttons of the game backwards before she was found dead. DropTheMike plays the game alone and encounters what seems to be her ghost.
Unsure if the encounter was really her ghost or a plant to make him think that, DropTheMike returns to the hotel room where he shows Danni and Chris the footage. As the friends debate the authenticity of the sighting, a phantom stranger bangs on their doors immediately followed by DropTheMike getting a video chat call from his fiancee Jess (Kelsey Paul) telling him that she's pregnant.
After a brief celebration of the news, the crew hear what sounds like fingernails digging into the wall from next door, where Nic has been ostracizing herself to edit the vlogs. Chris investigates, finding Nic in a disturbed, self-harmful state. Nic tells him to leave her alone and when he returns to Danni and DropTheMike, the team are haunted by a succession of increasingly hostile entities.
Chris, Danni and Nic leave the hotel one-by-one as their lives become increasingly in danger and by the third day, DropTheMike is left alone at the hotel while still holding onto the hope of finishing the series to procure the final subscriber count required by Haute Gothic. The security guard provides DropTheMike the key to the basement and in a 10-minute-long live recording, DropTheMike descends to the lowest level of the hotel where he finds a laptop watching his live broadcast in real-time. Mike is pursued by what seem like ghosts in the basement and escapes through the lobby, running into Skid Row where the broadcast feed is cut off.
In one more live broadcast recorded a few days after his stay at the Lennox, DropTheMike announces he will take a sabbatical from filming the vlog to pursue filming a documentary on the homelessness issues in Los Angeles. Mid-apology the lights shut off and DropTheMike hears a banging on the door. He follows the sound of Jess screaming at him to "get out". The entities that pursued him in the basement appear at the door, holding a decapitated head in hand. The live feed is again cut short as DropTheMike screams, realizing that the head they are holding belongs to Jess.
The computer user, having reached the conclusion of the DropTheMike video uploads, clicks on a video recommended by the website's casting service. It goes to the website of a teen vlogger who goes by the handle TerribleTyler (David Nesler). In the vlog, TerribleTyler crosses police tape into DropTheMike's house promising his subscribers information on what happened to DropTheMike. The user subscribes to the channel and types in the comment section: "Can't wait to meet you, Tyler :)". The comment's user handle is TheRealDropTheMike.
The computer user logs out as the comment is flooded with likes and reply comments. The user leans into the webcam revealing their identity at which point the screencast and movie end abruptly.
Producers, Antoine Le, Todd Klick, Matthew Brewbaker and Greg Berlant developed the story together basing Followed's fictional Lennox Hotel on the Cecil Hotel, famous for its many instances of death and violence, including the death of Elisa Lam, as well as murders by serial killers Jack Unterweger and Richard Ramirez. The producers were also inspired by Creepypasta, and based the main character, DropTheMike, on famous vloggers such as Logan Paul and PewDiePie, who seemingly use controversy to attract subscribers to their platforms.
In order to accurately depict realistic personalities needed for a found-footage film, the producers auditioned and cast Matthew Solomon as DropTheMike, Caitlin Grace as Nic and Tim Drier as Chris before the script was written. Once these roles were cast, writer, Todd Klick, then used the actors’ specific mannerisms and approach to the characters as a guideline for his script.
Followed was filmed in 12 days on a 144-page script. Two separate hotel locations were used to depict the Hotel Lennox: the Hayward Manor Apartments in Downtown Los Angeles, and the Hotel Normandie in Koreatown, Los Angeles. Locations also included Skid Row where homelessness was used as both a literal and thematic backdrop for the story.
Followed had its world premiere on September 7, 2018 at the 2018 Burbank International Film Festival in Burbank, California. It was subsequently selected into the 2018 Hollywood Independent Filmmaker Awards and 2018 Sydney Indie Film Festival where it won Best Horror/Thriller Feature Film at both festivals. Its wide release is expected in 2019.
Reviews from initial critics were overall positive, praising the film for its social commentary on Millennials and social media as well as its unique take on the found-footage genre. Audiences at initial screenings at festivals responded very positively, particularly regarding the relatable characters and suspenseful final act of the film.
|2018||Burbank International Film Festival||Best Horror/Thriller Feature Film||Antoine Le||Won|
|Best Actor||Matthew Solomon||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Sam Valentine||Nominated|
|Hollywood Independent Filmmaker Awards||Best Horror Feature Film||Antoine Le||Won|
|Sydney Indie Film Festival||Best Thriller Feature Film||Antoine Le||Won|
|Best Editing Feature Film||Matthew Brewbaker||Won|
|Best Special Effects||Justin Chandra||Won|
|Best Screenplay||Todd Klick||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Nelson Pun||Nominated|
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