Followed


The devil wants your coffee.

(2018) Horror (Global ViewMatthew Solomon, John Savage, Tim Drier, Sam Valentine, Caitlin Grace, Kelsey Griswold, Christopher Martin, Sarah Chang, Karan Sagoo, Ethan Alexander, Terumi Shimazu, Sonia Lopez Pizarro, Thaddeus Ek, Gregory Adkins, Doreen Fox Loughlin, India Adams, Blanca Blanco, Kate Romero, Santiago Postigo, David Nesler, JoAnna de Castro. Directed by Antoine Le

 

We live in an age when anybody can become an Internet star, and it doesn’t necessarily take talent so much as an ability to get noticed in a crowded milieu. Vlogger Mike a.k.a. DropTheMike (Solomon) comes to us from the mean streets of L.A., taking us on a haunted tour of the locations of suicides and murders. However, his numbers aren’t as high as he would like them to be and in order to drive them up so that he can get himself a $250,000 sponsorship, he decides to film a special Halloween edition – from the Lennox Hotel, the most haunted location in the city.

His cameraman Christopher (Drier) who has no problem going to the exteriors of these notorious locations, balks at spending the night inside of one; unlike Mike, he believes in the supernatural. Mike ups the pay and hires Christopher’s crush, Dani (Valentine) to do sound in order to get his DP back into the fold. Add workaholic on-site editor Nic (Grace) to the mix and it’s “let’s put on a show” time, kids.

At first it’s all fun and games, but genuinely spooky things begin to happen, from loud knocks on their bedroom door, to the discovery of body parts in various places in the hotel, to half-glimpsed sightings of people who aren’t there…you know the drill. Eventually, the fear factor is ratcheted up until the crew begin to desert the project one by one and Mike is left to face the unknown alone.

The movie is done in a found footage style, but in a clever way that avoids some of the more annoying tropes of the sub-genre. A framing device of a heavy-breathing presence uploading various segments to the vlog is effective, albeit a bit over-the-top. Then again, horror thrives on over-the-top, the more the better.

There is a subtle, sly satire on the whole vlogging culture. Mike is sufficiently obnoxious – he’s based loosely on real vloggers PewDiePie and Logan Paul – that at times we wish someone would call him on his insensitivity (mostly his mates just give him the eye-rolls of people who are all too familiar with a friend’s remarks, but what are you gonna do) and certainly, there are elements of creepypasta here (most of the denizens of the hotel have that feel. In fact, much of the movie seems to harken back to other movies, from The Shining to The Blair Witch Project to Grave Encounters and so on – you may end up frustrated that so much is borrowed from other films. That doesn’t make the movie any less fun.

Some of the scares are well-executed, but there is a tendency for the scary sequences to be filmed with handheld cameras in dim lighting so that a lot of the sources of the fright are barely glimpsed. I suppose that’s a function of a very low budget – when you can’t afford terrific make-up effects, you hide them by making sure that the audience never gets a clear view of them. I don’t know if that’s what happened here, but that’s where a critic’s mind automatically goes and, I’m sure, many horror fans as well. Also, keep in mind this is one of at least three horror films involving vloggers coming out this month alone.

Still, this is a pretty good horror movie and as were just getting into the season for them, it’s a good start to getting your terror on. The movie played in drive-ins in June and just hit VOD platforms. If you ask your local drive-in (or pop-up drive-in) nicely, they might rent it for you; this is the kind of film that’s perfect for that kind of venue. But it’s not a bad idea to turn the lights down in your bedroom and watch this on your TV screen…or laptop. But if you really want a good scare, do a Google search for the Hotel Cecil. That might just chill you to the bone.

REASONS TO SEE: Some decent scares.
REASONS TO AVOID: Not super original.
FAMILY VALUES: There are some horrific and disturbing images, plenty of profanity, some violence and drug use.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The Hotel Lennox is based on the real-life Hotel Cecil, where serial killer Richard Ramirez reportedly stayed and committed some of his crimes; also the Meghan Kim incident is based on the story of Elisa Lam, a Canadian college student who disappeared while staying there and whose actions, caught on surveillance video, were similar to that of Meghan Kim; Lam’s body was later discovered in a hotel water tank.
BEYOND THE THEATER: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, iScreeningroom, Microsoft, Vudu
CRITICAL MASS: As of 9/17/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 74% positive reviews; Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Shining
FINAL RATING: 6.5/10
NEXT:
Blackbird

New Releases for the Week of September 18, 2020


THE NEST

(IFC) Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Anne Reid, Charlie Shotwell, Adeel Akhtar, Tattiawna Jones, Oona Roche, Michael Culkin, James Nelson-Joyce. Directed by Sean Durkin

An English entrepreneur in the 1980s who has found some success in the United States, moves his family back home to a country manor. His American wife is unconvinced this is the right move, but her husband is adamant. Soon, things begin to turn dark and twisted as the family begins to unravel.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website
Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Enzian Theater
Rating: R (for some sexuality/nudity, language throughout and teen partying)

A Chef’s Voyage

(First Run) David Kinch, Jean-André Charial, Glenn Viel, Alain Soliveres. An American chef with a three-Michelin starred restaurant and his team head to France to work with three extraordinary chefs in their restaurants in Provence, Paris and Marseilles.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

Alone

(Magnet) Jules Wilcox, Marc Menchaca, Anthony Heald, Jonathan Rosenthal. A widow is captured by a serial killer and kept in his cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she escapes, a deadly hunt through the dense forest ensues.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Fashion Square Premiere Cinema
Rating: R (for violent content and language)

Blackbird

(Screen Media) Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon, Mia Wasikowska, Sam Neill. A family gathers at the beach house of an aging couple to say goodbye to their mother, who is going to commit suicide as her battle with ALS is hitting its final stages. However, unresolved issues between her daughters threaten to turn her final goodbye into a free-for-all.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Cinematique Theater Daytona Beach
Rating: R (for brief sexual material, some drug use and language)

Infidel

(Cloudburst/American Cinema International) Jim Caviezel, Claudia Karvan, Hal Ozsan, Stello Savante. After her husband is kidnapped and put on trial for espionage in Iran, a desperate woman goes to every length she can to save him.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Thriller
Now Playing: Wide Release
Rating: R (for violence and language)

No Escape

(Vertical) Keegan Allen, Holland Roden, Denzel Whitaker, Ronen Rubenstein. A social media influencer and his friends enter a personalized escape room in Moscow, only to realize that the fun and games may turn out to be deadly for them.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Horror
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: R (for pervasive language, bloody violence, grisly images, brief drug use and some graphic nudity)

Red, White and Wasted

(Dark Star) Sam B. Jones, Andrei Bowden Schwartz. A group of mudding enthusiasts (the sport of driving four-wheel drive vehicles through muddy terrain) from Orlando find themselves at loose ends when their favorite venue is bought by a private investor. However, as good country folk do, they refuse to give up without a fight.

See the trailer here
For more on the movie this is the website  
Genre: Documentary
Now Playing: Enzian On-Demand
Rating: NR

SCHEDULED FOR REVIEW:

Blackbird