Tag Archives: The Following

Are We Still Doing the Token Black Guy Thing?

Black dudes. What are they good for in film and TV? Well, offering witty remarks, making the shot look pretty (full) and dying first apparently.

But is this just a misconception which has been leant on too heavily? I’ll answer that one for you. Yes. Yes it is. There are not actually that many characters in film or TV programmes who happen to be both black, and token. Well, not anymore at least.

Token Black Guy

In previous decades, leading up to the ’70s, there were very few black characters in mainstream films as they were predominantly written and made for white audiences. So when filmmakers felt they had to take note of equal opportunities in this new era of change, the casting of black actors was made, but often limited to small parts, background characters and at best, supporting roles.

This was the case for all genres, including horror. But why the cliché that black characters are the first to die – especially in horror films? Well because they were I suppose, but only for a short period in cinema’s history – from the time they were actually being cast, until the time they were being given meatier roles. Continue reading

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5 Reasons Why The Following Could Be A Great Series

The first episode of The Following was met with much anticipation and speculation. Before it aired, I think most of us were hopeful it would succeed, but in order to do so it had to answer many questions before it won us over.

the following

Would Kevin Bacon be able to make the transition from underrated film star to lead actor in a TV series? Does Kevin Williamson still possess the creative edge and original ideas to build a challenging thriller? Will James Purefoy be convincing as a genius/madman?

Well what do you think? Were most of these questions answered in the first episode with positives? I think they were and I will definitely be returning to see how the drama unfolds in episode two. Here are five reasons why:

Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon has never quite made it to the A-List of American film stars but he has consistently delivered underratekevin-bacon-the-followingd performances throughout his career. Ever since his dancing days in Footloose, he has continued to challenge himself – whether it’s as a reformed child molester in The Woodsman or a smarmy lover in Crazy, Stupid Love.

Landing a major role will do his credentials wonders, especially if he is able to create a sympathetic and likeable character in Ryan Hardy. We’ve already seen him play a convincing man of the law in Clint Eastwood’s drama Mystic River, and it will be interesting to see if he can command a similar role in this thriller. So far Purefoy has taken centre stage with his layered maniac Joe Carroll, but as the weeks go by I’m sure we will all be rooting for Bacon’s character to win the day.

Maggie Grace’s Early Exit

Maggie Grace has done well since her Lost days. She’s turned in decent performances in Taken 2 as well as the impressive action/sci-fi Lockout.maggie grace

I didn’t realise she was in The Following until she turned up as most of the build-up revolved around Bacon and Purefoy. I was looking forward to seeing how her victimised character would evolve through the series so it was a genuine surprise to see her character, Sarah Fuller, be killed in the first episode. Although it was a shame, it did display a boldness by the creators which tells us the story could veer off in any direction at any point.

Let’s hope the series continues to surprise us with more character and plot twists each and every week.

The Music and Soundtrack

From the non-diegetic heartbeat whenever Bacon’s pacemaker assisted detective comes under pressure, to the Sweet Dreams cover pulsing through the final scene, the music and soundtrack of The Following proved to be a dynamic addition to the action and drama.james purefoy

As Hardy stumbled towards an ambush in order to save the girl, we were right there with him as the danger was not just what awaited him, but also from within himself. Reminiscent of Bruce Willis’ Hartigan in Sin City, Bacon’s Hardy is seriously disadvantaged due to a life of infliction from both his nemesis and his own self-destructive personality. This sound of his pressured heart is one that I think will feature throughout the episodes and become not only a signifier of danger, but a trademark of the series.

The soundtrack was equally as enthralling. Never before have I heard better use of Marilyn Manson’s oft used cover of the Eurythmics classic Sweet Dreams. As Purefoy’s handcuffed Joe Carroll taunts Ryan Hardy while simultaneously informing us of what’s to come, the gravelly, creepy voice of Manson fills the room elevating both Carroll’s ingenious insanity and Hardy’s desperate frustration.

Kevin Williamson’s Influence

Kevin Williamson has an impressive track record for creating a fresh perspective on fading genres – namely the teen/horror. With Scream and The Faculty his writing was full of awareness for clichés and it often delivered a refreshing ability to simultaneously mock and pay homage to the most famous examples which either helped to invent, develop or tarnish the genres reputation.kevin williamson

Not only does the The Following ask him to transfer his skills to a different medium, but it also tests him on his ability to entertain a new, older demographic. Yes, his work on film was enjoyed by a wide age-ranged audience, but it was mainly directed at the age-group portrayed within the material.

With The Following, he has already displayed that his talents are far-reaching, and as series creator, he has constructed a dark, adult world where no-one is safe or impervious to the grip of evil.

The tone of the first episode is comparable to successful series such as Luther – where even the protagonist has his demons. And like Luther, in order to overcome them Ryan Hardy will have to travel through a whole world of pain – filled with disturbing actions and calculated killers.

With Williamson at the helm I am confident that, although the series may at some points become tiring with its lack of realism regarding characterisation, we will be treated to a thoroughly involving journey from start to finish.

The Set-Up

Not knowing who could be revealed as the next psychotic killer from behind their good-guy persona is a tasty concept. the following2By the end of this first episode, we had already found out a number of the seemingly good guys were actually part of Carroll’s secret following of serial killers. But who will be next?

For the series to sustain some aspects of realism, surely there are not enough main characters for the story to continually reveal most of them as murderers in disguise – some new characters will have to be introduced. But I think it’s safe to say the theme set out in this episode of ‘good’ characters suddenly revealing themselves as part of Carroll’s insane following will recur. And after all, as the tagline goes – “The FBI estimates there are currently over 300 active serial killers in the United States.” – no doubt Carroll has rounded up quite a few of them and we’ve only come across a handful so far.

As we get deeper into the story, I think it will become apparent that no-one can be trusted, except maybe Ryan Hardy himself.


Review: The Following – Episode 1

Kevin Williamson has done it again. And he has done it by using the same conventions as he did so many times before with his genre re-defining film work.

The conventions? – clichés, those half-predictable yet somehow engaging narrative twists and the treading of a thin line which fits snuggly between pastiche and parody.

Much like The Faculty and the Scream series equally mocked and celebrated the teen-slasher genre, The Following is well aware of the pitfalls and tribulations of the serial-killer genre and it uses them to its advantage.

TheFollowing

James Purefoy is the ‘always one step ahead’ serial killer who uses the work and ill-mentality of Edgar Allen Poe as his inspiration/excuse.  Kevin Bacon (in his first TV leading role – if you don’t count the ‘Bacon adverts‘) is the former FBI detective who originally put him behind bars, and is brought back from a semi-disgraced, alcohol-fuelled wilderness to track him down once more.

The formula is one which has been recycled time after time, but somehow creator Williamson injects it with enough intrigue – namely, shocking, sudden violence and the odd not-so-predictable twist – to keep us happy until the second episode at least.

This first episode – with more flashbacks than a series of Lost on LSD – hurried along in a bid to squeeze in as much backstory and character development as possible. Although this did ensure our interest piques enough by the end to return next week,  when you find yourself trying to play catch-up with some rapid, spurted-out dialogue, it feels like the brakes could have been pressed on slightly.

The erratic pace aside, The Following offers the promise of at least a series worth of thoroughly engaging, edge of your seat games of cat and mouse.

So the scene has been set. Some characters have already met a gory end, others have taken sides. Next week and beyond we will see how long Purefoy’s incarcerated puppeteer can inflict pain and suffering before Bacon cuts his influential strings of madness once and for all.

68/82