Story by Marie Bertonneau, Anna Rasmussen, and Micho Rutare
Screenplay by Marie Bertonneau
Directed by Micho Rutare
The Internet once again has come to kill us all, but shockingly this isn’t a Lifetime Network film, nope! This joint from The Asylum debuted on SyFy of all places! There ain’t any spaceships or crazy monsters, heck #FollowFriday (the hashtag is part of the name) could happen in the real world. And judging from how incompetent Twitter is in getting rid of problem accounts (let’s just be honest, Twitter love nazi accounts), Twitter would be powerless to stop a killer form using their service were it to happen in real life.
#FollowFriday actually uses Twitter, complete with real Twitter accounts (all of which are now suspended, lol, I guess Twitter can ban movie accounts but not nazis) and screenshots of the twitter accounts running amok. The film takes place in a pocket universe where Twitter is the dominant social media tool to the point where all others are ignored or barely mentioned. There is a good sense of the chaos that the non-stop stream of social media opinions brings, as a constant barrage of voiceovers proclaiming their opinion on events as they happen or society in general (and even making lame jokes) plays in the background as characters sit around, type away on their devices, or stare in horror at the Twitter feed. As an active Twitter user, staring in horror at Twitter is a pretty common event.
Many of the characters are introduced by voiceovers of their tweets, which immediately gives you a fix on which archetype their characters are. There is a nerdy Young Republican, the young politician, the computer nerd, the health nut, the alpha male, and the outraged feminist. No need to set them up, we just know what they are and let them interact. And slowly get bumped off, as a killer is a-stalking them, each week whichever one is the biggest on trending, they get #dead.
Our heroine Nabila Nariman (Courtney Lakin) wrote an article criticizing the school’s sports team and was immediately attacked by rapid fans to the pont where she stays off of social media and has mandated meetings with the dean. She suffers from PTSD due to the harassment and will fly into panic attacks. She knows the dangers of blowing up on social media the wrong way, and that makes her the perfect person to realize what is going on before everyone else. What’s weird is she’s played by a lily white actress but her character seems to be intended to be Indian? She comes complete with Indian name and Indian brother and Indian mom. Maybe she was adopted as a baby? I don’t know if this was race-bending or just a modern family situation, so I can’t judge. Even Nabila says “I don’t judge people’s coping mechanisms”, so there isn’t a judgement bone in her boyd. She teams up with the computer guy and armchair internet sleuth Eric Cordon (Joseph Poliquin) to try to track down the killer, but as she’s already a known internet phenomenon that means she is in extra danger. Can she get out #alive? Or will she follow the rest into an early grave?
The lure of social media is strong, and there is a good scene where Nabila is meeting with the Dean, and the Dean’s social media notifications are going off constantly in the background and the Dean is obviously paying more attention to them than to Nabila. This was insanely relatable and a good reason why I limit myself on a lot of the platforms.
Overall some production decisions are good, like the social media background speak, the stylized credits, and the shots of guys in various weird environments posting on what is obviously Reddit, but other things are weird. There is suddenly time and date title cards 20 minutes into the movie. They are supposed to tell us that it just clicked over to Friday, hence the #FollowFriday, hence someone gonna die. But that isn’t explained right away so it just seems like the film suddenly switched styles. Speaking of switching styles, one of the female characters is introduced as a feminist online, but about halfway through the film she suddenly starts taking on gothic flavor and becomes a teacher’s pet to the Dean. Considering the perfect character to be teacher’s pet died earlier in the film, either there was a switcheroo to throw everyone off or there was some hurried rewrites and not everything got fleshed out correctly.
One of the big centerpoints is the characters get harassed by the public as they become social media pariahs before their impending demise. The fitness crazed Darby Bell-Santos (Ramsey Hanchette, who was far too good here to remain as obscure as she still is) gets dozens and dozens of pizzas sent to her place of work, class, and home, as we see her becoming more and more hysterical that it keeps happening. Surrounded by piles of pizza boxes, she succumbs to temptation only to purge it all away. Her character being far too good, she’s then bumped off. A later character is set on fire at a public event, which is live-streamed.
From the dangers of internet fame to yelling into the great abyss that is social media, #FollowFriday hits all the spots on the list and even throws in a few more. Yet despite some good performances and a different setup, the main story is just the same style of film that has been done many times before. The decision to have the main characters as a lady who is so traumatized that she can barley look at people in the eyes and an introverted computer guy who is more comfortable typing on a keyboard than talking to a human seems like fun for a written story, but when translated to actual performers it causes scenes to play out a bit….off. It’s hard to explain, but it does make people believe the film is just bad because of that. It isn’t, but it’s also not great. Perhaps a bit more of the characters dealing with their flaws while taking on the mysterious killer would have been the characterization kick we needed from the leads, instead we are left with the supporting cast and their laid out stereotypes as much fuller realizations. It’s too bad, there was a lot of potential here. While I’m not saying change the channel if it is on tv, #FollowFriday isn’t going to be trending to a must-watch list near you.
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