When serial killer and former English literature professor, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), escapes from prison after he was sentenced for killing 14 of his female students, ex-FBI agent and past Carroll captor Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is put back on the case.
The Edgar Allan Poe-inspired, cult-centred premise alone is enough to stand a few hairs on end, and when members start taking to the streets donning Poe masks and setting pedestrians on fire it becomes pretty sinister.
The Following is gritty and gory, but balanced seamlessly with an incredibly compelling plotline; making it authentic and compelling, as opposed to something more akin to an over-the-top extension of the seemingly never-ending Saw saga.
Suspense is ramped up to an all-time high as the extent of Carroll’s fanbase is steadily revealed.
Some might argue that his incredibly extensive network of followers is irritating and implausible, but most will agree that it aids intrigue and tension, encouraging you to question the role of most characters, including key protagonists.
Flashbacks not only help to flesh out events behind his initial capture, but aid characterisation without slowing the pace. Casting has to be commended, with Purefoy proving the perfect choice as British baddie and charismatic cult ring leader, James Carroll.
Bacon, similarly, is convincing as troubled FBI veteran Hardy, reminding us that he is capable of deeper, darker and more serious roles, and not just as the funny face of 4G. Credit must also be given to Valorie Curry for a compelling and chilling performance as Emma, Carroll’s biggest fan and a girl whose innocent, boyish looks shouldn’t be underestimated. This 20-something has serious parental issues and a keen desire to publicly vent her frustrations.
The show is especially well written, bringing twists to every turn and hooking viewers by concluding each episode with a cliff-hanger, or two. You’ll power through the boxset in no time, and will soon be counting down to the start of Season 2.