Monday, January 28, 2013

The Following

FOX was Fringeless last Friday -- gonna take a while to get used that -- so I took the opportunity to check out the encore premiere of The Following. Aside from Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Scream, and Luther on the BBC, I’ve never been especially interested in shows/films dealing with serial killers. The deal-breaker for me is that too many of them focus on being gruesome rather than suspenseful. I don’t mind gore, as long as it goes hand in hand with good storytelling. The Following’s promos seemed interesting enough, and the involvement of Kevin Bacon and Kevin Williamson were a definite plus to get me on board.

A brilliant and charismatic, yet psychotic serial killer communicates with other active serial killers and activates a cult of believers following his every command. 

A couple of well-worn tropes are front and center: the burnt out (ex) FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) who got way too close to his quarry, the brilliant professor-turned-serial killer (James Purefoy), his obsession with a Edgar Allan Poe, the love triangle, a paternity question -- I’m probably missing a few, but you get the idea. Bacon helps. A lot.

Maybe there’s more to come, but I don’t think the pilot illustrated how social media helps these twisted followers come together. Nobody wants to watch people pointing and clicking for 45 minutes, but viewers should get a sense of how they communicate. Note to self: start working on a Techno-thriller.

The other thing that caught my attention: the Hero’s Journey stuff. Joe Carroll (Purefoy) fancies himself an author, and Ryan Hardy (Bacon) is his protagonist. He actually explains to Hardy that a killing was necessary so he would have a call to action. I’m curious to see how much The Following adheres to the stages of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth.

The ratings were pretty solid, around 10 million viewers, so there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get to see all 14 episodes.

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