The Following is about retired FBI Special Agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), an escaped serial killer, Joe Carroll (James Purfoy), his proteges, and the victims of those crimes. Joe Carroll has gathered a cult following similar to Charles Manson while imprisoned for the past 15 years. But when Carroll escapes from prison the director of the FBI calls former Special Agent Ryan Hardy to help track him down. Helping Ryan hunt down the escaped Carroll are Special Agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) and Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore).
Harding was responsible for Carroll’s capture in 2003, after Carroll murdered 14 female students on the Virginia college campus where he taught literature. Ryan Hardy knows Carroll better than anyone and may be Carroll’s only psychological and intellectual match. But the Ryan Hardy who broke the Carroll case years ago isn’t the same man today. Wounded both physically and mentally by his previous pursuit of this serial killer, it’s been a long time since Hardy has been in the field. He retired from the FBI after being injured by Carroll, a stab wound to the heart which required the implant of a pacemaker. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Ryan has a drinking problem.
During the past 15 years, Ryan Hardy has been writing novels, and a book about the Carroll case for which he received literary accolades. Agent Weston idolizes Ryan Hardy, and has great respect for his literary work.
The FBI’s investigation leads Hardy back to Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea), Carroll’s ex-wife and the mother of the criminal’s young son, Joey (Kyle Catlett). Close during Hardy’s initial investigation, Hardy turns to Claire for insight into Carroll’s next move.
When Carroll’s accomplices kidnap his intended last victim (Maggie Grace) from 10 years ago. Hardy becomes ever more determined to end Carroll’s game of terror when he realizes that the psychopath intends to finish what he started. And he does, with help from Maggie’s next door neighbors and Carroll accomplices.
Carroll idolizes Edgar Allan Poe’s literary works. In his idolization he has taken the novels into a gory world of painting images with human bodies. My opinion is that he falls short of Poe’s works, which was to scare, not terrorize, his readers. Poe was able to use suggestion to scare. He did not need to create literal images of gore. If Carroll had true insight into Poe he would never have committed such grizzly acts in Poe’s name. Instead he shows what he truly is; a madman who has an intense mental illness who imagines himself with much more grandeur than he deserves.
I love Kevin Bacon, he is a terrific actor and he does an excellent job capturing the psyche of his character. Taking a water bottle filled with vodka was an excellent move on his part. Was it in the script? I have no idea, but it was a dangerous move considering he was on his way to consult with the FBI on the biggest case of his career. It made his career and destroyed it at the same time.
I enjoyed the use of flashbacks to help in the character development and story line. Most of the time I find flashbacks annoying, as they are not well done. The direction has an interesting feel of the Macabre, yet it puts too much emphasis on the gore and blood. I’d like to see more of a Hitchcock technique to the direction, which would be comparable to the imagination of Poe himself.
The bottom line is, I like The Following, even if the critics don’t. I hope the writers are able to continue as well as improve upon the work they have done so far. The one thing I have learned in this life, if the critics hate it, I usually love it. I am wishing a long and fruitful run for The Following.
As always, I welcome your comments just as long as they are civil.