13th Floor Interview: Keegan Allen Star of Follow Me

One post-Covid film that is generating a heap of attention is the horror/thriller Follow Me.
Actor Keegan Allen (Pretty Little Liars) plays vlogger/influencer, Cole Turner, who is keen on taking his antics to the edge. He and his crew head to Moscow to see what they can drum up for their Escape Real Life vlog and their 12 million subscribers. The film, directed by Will Wernick careens from light-hearted travelogue to a heart-stopping, horror/shocker.

The 13th Floor’s Marty Duda spoke to lead actor Keegan Allen. You can listen to their conversation here:


Or, read a transcription here:

M: I’m curious, what have you been doing to keep yourself busy during the old coronavirus business? Has it had any effect on you?

K: Yeah, I think it affects everybody in different ways, mostly psychological. I’ve been trying to keep a very clear mind during this time and not completely subscribe to the chaos of the world around me but rather go introspectively and that’s why spending time in the forest in really, really lovely and I grew up here so having this place to sequester has been really helpful for the mind.

M: From what I understand and from what I’ve read, being outside is the best thing you can do health wise as well, as far as avoiding the whole thing so you’re probably in the right place.

K: Yeah, I agree. It’s awesome.

M: Ok, so let’s talk about the film a little bit. I’m curious just to how you got involved with it. Was this something that you were chasing after or they approached you about? What’s the story behind your involvement?

K: My involvement was an amalgamation of them reaching out to me and me reading it and wanting to be a part of it. I very much you know, I get a lot of thriller scripts thrown at me to read sometimes but this felt different in the respect that it made me very much examine social media as a villain. Not in a way to vilify it but the way to understand that all of us in the world right now are objects of predation in which…when social media in any platform, who is the influencer and who is the influenced? And how far will people go sometimes to get views and what is the actual outcome of some of these views? Like what happens? We see that all the time with certain influencers and people that have in the past been under the public microscope and how they responded to using their platform or what they use their platform for was really interesting to me and the way this movie highlighted that. Will Wernick did such an amazing job of creating something, in my opinion when I read it, that had all the social draws of what is fascinating about this new era that we live in but also how the concatenation of one loss of self or the masks that we wear so readily in public seem to deteriorate when put in a certain situation and this movie really to me highlighted it, drew me in.

M: And I guess, I realised the title itself, Follow Me, means something completely different now than say it would’ve even just ten years ago just because of the way things have changed. Do you do much in social media? Are you involved with it or do you shy away?

K: As somebody that, you know I came off of a television series which absolutely garnered most of its success from the ability to host so many different social media, almost I want to say like parties, chat parties, tweet parties, ways that fans are able to interact now with their favourite TV shows or for that part, anything. It’s a different world and when I got involved with my television series, that came with, it was very impressive in a time then because nobody had experienced, no-one at work had experienced that kind of ability to talk directly to fans or allow actors, or athletes or public figures to talk directly to fans without having that glass wall up of a publicist or a media outlet or something. So I did start out using social media. I still do use it, I try to use it for obviously for good and very benevolent behaviour. I don’t want to ever go out there and create any kind of chaos but at the same time, it’s important sometimes for me to go on and highlight not only from my perspective the right things to do, but also, I like my photography and beautiful things and share some nice things cause people are all on there digesting huge amount of digital fodder every second.

M: That’s right, yeah that’s true. You mentioned the director Will Wernick and to me the film kind of starts out as almost being like a travel log of travelling to Moscow and it’s all very light and fluffy almost and then suddenly it gets very much darker. I’m wondering what kind of discussions you had with Will about the way the film kind of travelled from that, from one thing to the other.

K: I absolutely had conversations with him about everything but I’m trying to understand the question a little bit better.

M: Well as far as an actor, is it important for you to know the way the film is moving from one thing to another and does that affect your performance?

K: Yes.

M: How so?

K: I mean I don’t know how else to really embellish on that. As an actor it’s really important obviously to have discussion with a director, I mean, I think it’s an actor’s responsibility and proclivity to move in a direction in which they know where the film’s going. I definitely had conversations with Will throughout the film in which the film started out written very much different, the scripted version of it was different than obviously the way that it came out for a myriad of reasons. One being that, there was an overwhelming amount of content that would have needed to be, I think procured over a long period of time in which I already had because I was, actually at one point, I was vlogging my life from a very young age anyway that I had tapes and things that he could kind of use in the movie. So that’s why you see so many cutaways to different timelines and a lot of people actually have been very interested in that. We kind of went through a different amount of ways that we could showcase that this Cole Turner had gone through, the adolescence of, the coming of age, coming up in the industry of vlogging in a way that would make sense. So yeah, of course, lots of discussion with how that would affect the film and ultimately, it’s one of these things where when you sign on to a project like this with a director that’s as passionate about his project but equally as collaborative, it’s definitely a blessing because we were able to sit down, many a time, and go over exactly how something was going to play out rather than just shooting what was on the page and that collaboration I think really added to the general intrigue of the film and the dark twists that come up but in a way, we wanted to give the audience something in which they could watch comfortably in the beginning yet perplexed and not really understand where it was going and then kind of slap them with a reality that very much feels in some ways true.

M: And of course, the film eventually goes into some very dark places. I’m wondering, when you’re shooting stuff like that, what is the vibe on the set like between you and the other actors and the crew? How does that feel?

K: It was, at times, very challenging I think. Because, I mean, you saw the film. I wanted to not just, I really wanted it to feel as real as possible and be as real for me as I could make because some of the movie is quite extraordinary. It feels like farce at times and I wanted the performance to be really rooted in the reality that most people like vloggers like this really live this kind of life. As much as it feels completely fantastical and whimsical to some, it’s extraordinarily true in a lot of ways and of course some of these moments were really, again, challenging I think for everybody involved, because it’s a very, very dark film and it gets down into the darkest parts of our human experience and what human beings are capable of under certain circumstances. It’s pretty troubling.

M: Definitely. Did you have any contact with any actual vloggers or influences to get a little background on what their lives are like?

K: Yes. I did a lot of research because I was already pretty fascinated with the industry. I have a lot of friends that are in that industry. George Janko is actually a professional vlogger so he’s like a YouTube celebrity,  he was originally a Vine star so he was part of the film and it was great to utilise his  very responsible research and his friendships in a way, that was like unique to the story line, unique to the performance and yet didn’t recycle or regurgitate things that most of the public would assume and also to be like very respectful to the industry in a way because as much, again, as it feels like it’s completely fictional, you can go on any of these very, very well-known vloggers pages and see that the movie is not that far off from that type of lifestyle. You know it’s really an examination of what we ingest as an audience like what we are ok with and it’s starting to get, the line’s starting to get further and further away.

M: I read somewhere that one of your favourite horror films is The Exorcist, and then I’ve seen in some advertising or whatever that Follow Me is kind of being compared to Saw and those kind of films. Neither of those seems to actually put your finger on what this is about. How would you describe it and compare it to what people may be familiar with already?

K: You know, what’s funny is that when people compare our movie to Hostel or Saw, I mean, you seeing it, I think that it has obvious nods to very classic horror but in the parameters of what the story line is actually suggesting with those nods and those emulations, the movie feels more to me like something that is very, very of its own class and the horror factor, the carnage aspect of the film is realistically, I don’t want to give anything away within the interview, but that aspect of the film is almost like a very juvenescent look at what the actual villain of the film is. So it’s almost like, in some ways I feel like this movie is not really comparable to anything and when people see I feel like they understand that. But I get the need to try compare it to those very much those movies because at the end of the movie there’s a huge massive twist and I can see why that plays into that.

M: As an actor, you’ve kind of gone back and forth between doing television and doing films. I know that you’ve just signed on to do this Walker series. There used to be a very clear line drawn in the sand between doing television and film back in the day but those lines seem to be blurred. Do you have a preference? Do you see any difference between the way you work in either medium?

K: Now so much, you’re right, it used to be a very clear line, there were film actors, there were television stars there were daytime television stars, it was like a totally different world and now really I think because of streaming and because of the fact that especially now with everybody being home, those lines are blurred in a way because of the fact that households are now more representative of cinemas and that’s why I’m really excited that people are going to the cinema and experiencing the romantic side of movie going and going and seeing this film because that line, even though it is blurred, there is a magical, there’s some magical recipe of going to the cinema, but you’re right, there are people like Al Pacino who are on TV you know what I mean? Or Meryl Streep did a TV show. So I think technology has blurred that line and made it impossible for more actors and more formats and mediums to adapt to cinema. I think it’s leaning more towards cinema, it’s almost like we’re putting more cinema on television. I don’t really have a preference. I actually prefer theatre if I was to choose

M: Oh really? Ok.

K: Oh yeah, I love theatre. I love doing live performances like that but yeah, and it very much lends itself to allowing any actor to kind of jump into any format which is really exciting.

M: Like I said, I know you’re doing a TV series next, did you see yourself going with whatever attracts you no matter what format it is?

K: Yeah, I mean I’m really excited for Walker Texas Ranger, I’m really excited for Jared Padalecki, him coming off of Supernatural and me coming out of Pretty Little Liars it’s like we both had really fun television series that had a huge, wonderful fan base that we’re bringing with us. But I am really excited about that aspect and what else I could dip my toe into because doing this movie is such a different experience than doing television in so many ways because you have a beginning, middle and end and you put that character completely to bed when it’s over. Whereas, for us, it’s like we were these characters for almost over a decade and we grew with these characters on these television series. So I think with any actor’s journey through the craft it’s all about challenging yourself and this movie was a huge challenge for me.

M: How so?

K: It was a challenge for on one side, it’s a character that I had to create from a part of me that I didn’t even know really could exist and this is like an exhibitionist part of me that I’m normally more reticent to share my life, I’m normally more introverted and private and there is a public persona that we all share through social media and I wanted to really dig into that but also it was a self-examination of what you can be capable of. And it was a challenge for me to recognise that. I watched this rally crazy documentary a couple of night ago about the Omaha Beach and World War ll and these soldiers that were storming Normandy beach and they were talking about the fact that they were like I never thought in a million years I was capable of doing the things that I did that day and I was just a child, I was in a war. And it made me realise that it’s terrifying to understand that human beings are capable of anything when put in a situation and I think that was the most challenging thing, not to somehow connect those dots, I mean, war is a totally different thing but that human science, that element of our psychology when pushed to a limit is terrifying and it very much was a challenge and an examination in which I wasn’t fully aware of when I signed on but once I had examined it further it was very much a, it was an experience.

Follow Me is now playing in cinemas.