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November 30, 2022

Austin Film Festival review: ‘Follow Her’ plays well as a psycho-sexual thriller

Film explores use — and misuse — of social media platforms

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Jess Peters (Dani Baker) lives in New York City and is trying to gain fame as a social media influencer. She films people without their knowing, sometimes revealing private kinks and peccadilloes. She usually finds these folks on through online listings.

Then she posts these videos on social media, watching as her viewership climbs. But when the intentional blurring of one of her victim’s faces fails to work, she realizes that she should leave the video up anyway, because it’s getting more online traction.

Her dad (Mark Moses) does not approve of her conduct — or her ambitions. And he threatens to cut her off.

Jess is undeterred. Known to her online followers as J-PEEPS, Jess answers an online ad one day from Tom (Luke Cook), who wants her to help him finish a script. She meets him in a field outside of New York, and they go to a converted barn where Tom lives.

It’s a dangerous situation for Jess, as they take a long walk through the woods to Tom’s home. Once inside, she asks to see the script-in-progress and discovers that it’s only three pages long, with the main two characters being Tom — and Jess.



Uh-oh.

A cat-and-mouse game ensues, with lots of twists and turns and flirting and darting. Both lead characters are good-looking, and there’s lots of sexual chemistry. But there’s also lots of deception. Since Jess is less than scrupulous, she hides cameras throughout Tom’’s home. The only trouble with that ploy is that Tom is just as canny about hiding cameras as she is.

Before too long, it becomes clear that Tom has lured Jess to the home to punish her for her past behavior, in particular for hurting an apparent friend of his, the aforementioned guy whose face was not blurred.

Baker plays Jess with aplomb. She certainly understands her character, since Baker wrote the script.

Sylvia Caminer directs, after a career in producing and making nonfiction films.

The use of smartphones is savvy, even though the actors using fake social media platforms similar to YouTube. Caminer often uses a split screen to show what’s going on when Jess is recording and posting to social media. And this, too, adds to the savviness of the production.

“Follow Her” screened Oct. 28 at the Austin Film Festival. It screens again at 9:15 p.m. Nov. 2 at the Rollins Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. See austinfilmfestival.com


Charles Ealy
Charles Ealy
Charles Ealy is a former movies editor for The Dallas Morning News and Austin American-Statesman.

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