Followed is a new horror movie from Viscape Arts and Global View Entertainment that’s told in a rather unique way; The film is actually an hour and a half long screen recording that largely consists of internet personality DropTheMike’s final vlogs, before his mysterious disappearance.
A Brief History of Screen Life
Films told in this format, such as Searching and Unfriended: Dark Web are part of a sub-genre known as screen life. Screenlifer.com describes screen life as “a new format of visual content that has grown from independent projects to full-length, world-renowned films, documentaries and TV shows. Its main idea is that everything that the viewer sees happens on the computer, tablet or smartphone screen. All the events unfold directly on the screen of your device. Instead of film set — there’s a desktop, instead of protagonist’s actions — a cursor.”
The genre was pioneered by Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov who produced the aforementioned films, as well as the original Unfriended and Russian screen life comedy film Hack Bloggers. As of August 2018, Timur Bekmambetov had fourteen screen life movies in various stages of development. On June 9th, 2020, Deadline reported that Universal Studios had set a five-picture deal with Bekmambetov for his extremely profitable screen life films.
How Followed Utilizes Screen Life
The future’s never been brighter for this style of filmmaking, which means that Followed couldn’t have arrived at a better time, especially considering director Antoine Le and writer Todd Klick’s grand designs for the future of the franchise.
Initially, Followed walks in the footsteps of Bekmambetov’s craft, as the first two acts are traditional vlogs, produced by Nic, the editor of DropTheMike team. Le utilized the tools of his genre of choice masterfully, during the first two-thirds of the film. While the first part of the final act was his true shining moment. When DropTheMike enters the basement of the Lennox Hotel, he’s alone, shooting from a POV perspective. This allows the viewer to see the ghastly set through the protagonist’s eyes, creating a real sense of dread and terror that’s seldom captured in the screen life genre.
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Antoine Le explained his intent with this shift in perspective in our interview.
“You’ve spent two thirds of the footage being a voyeur, now let’s put you in the vlogger’s shoes, in that person and hopefully that would actually create that sense of fear in the audience as a voyeur now that they can see what the vlogger was doing.”
Yet another one of the ambitious director’s goals with Followed was to inject it with the cinematic intensity that he saw in Josh Trank’s found footage masterpiece, Chronicle.
“In the cinematic found footage films we have Chronicle, which is again, I love that movie. It’s a found footage superhero movie and I thought it was brilliant, which lead me to think hey how do we combine you know the Blair Witch sort of real sense of dread with the cinematic style of Chronicle?”
In the same way that Josh Trank reinvigorated the more traditional found footage genre by telling a story about a group of teens who inadvertently gain superpowers, Antoine Le crafted the next evolution in screen life with his debut feature film by forcing the audience to experience the horrors of the Lennox basement through Mike’s eyes.