The Following: Things that go AAARRGGHH!!! in the night

the following bacon purefoyI watched the first episode of The Following last night (I know, only a week behind everybody else, as ep. 2 has already aired) and I think I’m still shivering. It’s seriously spooky stuff.

The set up is that Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy, your typical ex-FBI agent with an alcohol problem and nightmares about his last case, the one where he took down a Seriously Bad Guy Indeed. The episode opened with the serial killer Bad Guy, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) breaking out of prison, leaving a trail of gore in his wake – but how did he do it? And how will the FBI capture him before he kills again?

Obviously they need Hardy, and obviously after initial reluctance he’s persuaded to come back. This is where it starts getting properly creepy. Present day scenes are intercut with flashbacks from when Hardy first worked on the case, there are plenty of jumps and a lot of gore. Carroll is not your standard-issue serial killer, even though he has a penchant for Edgar Allan Poe and his calling card is removing the eyes of his victims. He’s taken the Hannibal Lecter mind-games thing one step further – Carroll is actually able to control the minds of others, priming them to suddenly change from normal behaviour to doing his ghastly bidding. It all conveys a mounting feeling of paranoia – characters who seem reasonable, or sympathetic, suddenly turn out to be the people who’ll drag you away in the middle of the night.

James Purefoy is excellent as Carroll. He doesn’t overdo the menace and is effortlessly charismatic. Kevin Bacon’s character is more of a standard-issue burned-out detective type, but his shocked, seen-too-much face is always watchable and the character is believable, despite the occasionally clunky bits of dialogue (mainly to do with the Edgar Allan Poe connection, which is overdone a bit).

I’ll be watching episode 2 with the lights turned up to 11.

Posted by PLA

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