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The Follower: The Slender Man Documentary (2013) – User Review

User Rating: 8

 

The Follower tells two stories, that of the mystery of the Ashman family disappearance (Found Footage aspect) and the experiences of the documentary crew who are examining said mystery (Mockumentary).

It jumps back and forth from past to present to examine the facts and ultimately reveal the consequences for looking into the missing persons case and the fates of all involved.

The Found Footage aspect is largely one man, Jason Ashman, as he documents his efforts to find his wife and child and his research/experiences of the Slenderman. A small amount of this segment deals with the events leading up to his wife and child, and what they encounter just before they vanish.

The Mockumentary involves a film crew looking into the facts of the case, interviewing people involved/relevant to subject matter, and bringing public attention to the Ashman family drama (and later the discovery of the Slenderman legend). Hence the reasons for filming both aspects appear largely realistic and believable. Having said that there are some intimate scenes between some of the characters that are less likely to be filmed. Whilst they are somewhat explained by the characters involved, still seem not quite as organic as they should.

The equipment ranges from small personal handheld/tripod cameras to professional filming equipment all in context.

The camera shots are not always perfect, especially in times of stress, but there aren’t over extended periods of ‘shaky cam’ mode. Camera angles are not impossible in the moment, or contrived. Most of the filming has a very overt explanation – the people involved want evidence to warn others of the existence of the Slenderman, so they try their best, even in moments of danger, to capture as much as they can.

For the Mockumentary scenes, it is implied that professional cameramen are being used, so you would expect this film to come across with somewhat high production values through most of it.

The Slenderman himself is used smartly and sparingly, appearing more as a classic Boogeyman rather than a outlandish alien type creature, which feeds into the more believable scenario.

As the film is largely Mockumentary, and is being presented as a finished product, the interchanges between story focus/time periods and the music that is added makes sense and does not affect the immersion. If anything when it is used, especially the music score, it ramps up the tension.

There is one scene of fourth wall breaking, which is very brief, and seems to be used to invite viewer interaction from the comments section on Youtube.

The acting is quite solid, especially within the main cast. Some actors felt a little weaker than others when presenting script material, but not overtly so. The script was written well enough to aid the actors in presenting their characters. The cast was mostly likable, even in some of their misguided decision making moments – which helps you to feel the horror, as these are people you care about.

After looking on IMDb, it appears that the cast has had previous acting experiences, mainly in Australia film shorts.

The locations used in the film are steeped in everyday life; the domestic home, workplace, even a abandoned home in the forest all seem like common places rendered terrible by the circumstances being played out.

The interaction with and style of filming in these locations help the viewer immerse into a story featuring everyday people in contact with something strange and unusual, increasing your fear for their wellbeing. They are innocents in everyday locations, trying to make sense of what has happened.

The well paced skipping back and forth from the Ashman family and the documentary crew helps grow a sense on unease for what is to come and how things may end, and the parallels between how the main characters have come to such a dire situation makes for clever segue ways.

The plot is intriguing, especially as it follows two groups of people – The head of the Ashman family trying to find his wife and daughter and the documentary crew, who intially are just trying to look into the mystery of the missing family and how it gets them caught up in something they did not expect in a very personal way.

It is not exploitative when looking at the grief of a family torn apart by a terrible event, and in fact I find it to be one of the better films looking at the human angle of a supernatural happening.

It delves back to the origin of the Slenderman on the internet, some of it’s historical roots and even philosophizes on how it operates and hence may be defeated. It is very respectful of the source material and adds a little to the mythology, whilst explaining it within the plot to viewers who may not know it.

The Follower for me is a excellent example of Australian Mockumentary/Found Footage Horror, and a great film for those unfamiliar with the Slenderman legend.

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