For 15 weeks on Monday nights at 9 PM I was glued to the television to watch The Following. Since it was created by Kevin Williamson, who in my mind created one of the scariest and original modern horror movies with Scream, I was excited to check it out. Kevin Bacon on a weekly basis was the other main reason I tuned in. Neither of them disappointed with this terrifying psychological thriller.
Former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is brought back from disability to help re-capture Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a serial killer Hardy was responsible for sending to prison years earlier. A team is formed to find Carroll, and Hardy reluctantly agrees to assist in a limited capacity. Working closely with FBI profiler and cult-specialist Debra Parker (Annie Parisse) and ingenue Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore), Hardy learns that Carroll has a vast network of followers eager to do his bidding. As the hunt continues, it becomes apparent that Carroll's grand scheme involves around a final showdown with Hardy that involves Carroll's ex-wife Claire (Natalie Zea) and young son.
What makes The Following so great is the fast-paced intensity. With only 15 episodes, each one is packed with action. It is the scariest thing I have ever seen on television. It is reminiscent of the success Williamson had with Scream, dark and truly horrifying. Re-watching it allowed me to notice little details I missed previously, enhancing the overall progress of the story, such as how Joe Hardy's state of mind is reflected by his disheveled apartment when the audience meets him for the first time in the pilot.
While being shocking and scary, the show is well written and offers strongly-developed characters through thoughtful flashbacks. It isn't black and white when it comes to hating the bad guys and rooting for the good ones and casting plays a major role in that success. Even the followers are intriguing in their own way like Emma whose backstory shows why she is so susceptible to Joe's charms.
The heart of the show, however, lies with the chemistry between Bacon and Purefoy. Bacon is suburb as the flawed hero. I have always felt that he is underrated as an actor, being solid in everything he is in. No one could play Hardy as believably; his weaknesses make him stronger and with each episode you root harder and harder not only for him to capture Carroll but to find some level of peace. Carroll is pure evil but as played by the charismatic Purefoy, you can see why he would be able to draw severely damaged people to him in the same way Charles Manson was able to. This is a disturbing show and not for everyone.
The combo pack offers all 15 episodes, on three Blu-rays and four DVDs, along with hours of bonus content that really cater to true fans by providing new material and building excitement for the new season. The Blu-rays have a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at an aspect ratio. The audio is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
“From a Dark Place: Maximum Episode Mode” offers an audio commentary of the pilot by Kevin Williamson and executive producer Marcos Siega along with behind-the-scenes moments highlighting key points throughout the episode. Williamson and Siego also provide an audio commentary for the season finale. “The Thrill of Horror: The Creator Behind The Following” focuses on how Williamson was able to bring the show to network television. “The Cult of Joe Carroll: Inside the Followers” examines the psychology of the followers. “The Following Production Chronicles” highlights the on-set production episode by episode. “The Followers Den,” “The Poe Mask,” and “Free Megan” are mini-featurettes offering interviews with the cast and crew on these aspects of the show. There are also deleted scenes.
It is hard to recommend something this gory and frightening but for those that enjoy intense thrillers and being scared, the first season of The Following is not to be missed.