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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Following
The Complete First Season


Starring: Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Natalie Zea, Annie Parisse, Shawn Ashmore Valorie Curry, Nico Tortorella, Adan Canto and Kyle Catlett
Distributor: Warner Home Video
RRP: £34.99
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 02 December 2013

Ryan Hardy is a psychologically scarred ex-FBI agent who was forced to retire after he was injured tracking down and arresting a serial killer who preyed on college girls. Several years later this killer, charismatic Joe Carroll, has managed to amass a number of dedicated followers who are intent on carrying on his work... as well as freeing him from death row...

The Following is an interesting idea for a show. The basic story follows Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) as he is brought out of retirement by the FBI to track down a serial killer with the same MO as Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), a violent killer who Hardy put away several years before. The FBI aren't sure whether this is a copycat killer, or an unknown accomplice of Carroll's from his original murder spree. Carroll himself is on death row, soon to be executed for his crimes, and Hardy is brought in to question him and see if they can stop the current killer.

Carroll's ex-wife (who Hardy had an affair with while working the original case) and son both have their lives turned upside down once again when it becomes clear that Carroll has people on the outside who are prepared to carry out his every wish... and when Carroll's followers break him out of prison Hardy is against the clock to bring the killer to justice, rescue Carroll's family from harms way and make sure everyone of Carroll's accomplices are held accountable for their actions.

Knowing that there were 15 episodes in this season, I initially thought the writers wouldn't be able to keep up the suspense for a whole season. I'm glad to say that I was wrong on that count. In the early episodes I couldn't help but be reminded of 24 and there was a slight worry that Hardy was going to spend most of the episodes tracking down Carroll's kidnapped son for him to constantly get moved every time Hardy got close. Thankfully, this also wasn't the case.

I loved the inspiration behind Carroll's work (Edgar Allen Poe) and the idea of him writing a book where he is the villain and Hardy is the hero - with every chapter carefully constructed before the events actually take place. I also loved the way the writers tackled how cliched elements of Carroll's obsession was - which is most evident in the closing episodes at the final rather obvious location.

Why this show was split over five discs is a bit of a mystery (other than to squeeze more money out of fans). The final disc only includes a 25 minute feature and no episodes. In fact those watching disc four and expecting another handful of episodes on disc five will be very disappointed - the season ends on a cliffhanger which will have you eagerly awaiting the next season (which begins broadcasting in January 2014).

The extras are pretty extensive. On disc one we get From a Dark Place: Maximum Episode Mode (56 min, 54 sec audio commentary with the show's creator Kevin Williamson and executive producer Marcos Siega on the pilot episode. This is interrupted every now and then with behind the scenes features); The Followers’ Den (1 min, 18 sec look at the followers' den set); The Poe Mask (1 min, 48 sec look at the design of the mask); and Deleted Scenes (1 min, 51 sec interesting scene where Hardy's boss tells him he should evolve like the killer has and not to be such a cliched old angry guy).

Extras on disc two include The Thrill of Horror: The Creator Behind The Following (12 min, 38 sec interview with cast and crew on the creation of the show); The Following: Free Megan (1 min, 36 interview with Li Jun Li, who plays Megan Leeds in the show); and Deleted Scenes (8 min, 23 sec - one interesting scene explains why a certain character was killed - which adds a little more depth to that episode).

Disc three has just a collection of Deleted Scenes (6 min, 39 sec). Disc four has The Cult of Joe Carroll: Inside the Followers (17 min, 30 sec look at serial killer groupies and some of the most notable followers on the show); The Following Production Chronicles (26 min, 15 sec look at a number of behind the scenes footage for various shoots throughout the season); and an audio commentary on the season finale. The fifth and final disc has no episodes, just a single feature The Twisted Journal of The Followers (25 min, 08 sec).

This is an impressive series which gives a nod and a wink to the cliched elements of the genre, but making them appear fresh and original.


Darren Rea

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