‘The Following’: Makings of a Macabre Masterpiece

The macabre horror of The Following is perfectly set up by Marilyn Manson’s dark rendition of “Sweet Dreams,” an eerie tune that serves as the bookends for last night’s season premiere episode. James Purefoy menacing performance is superb as the charming professor and serial killer Joe Carroll, and Kevin Bacon’s controlled performance is believable as his counterpart, the utterly flawed ex-FBI agent Ryan Hardy.

The mix of horror and romanticism in this show highlights the two different sides of Carroll, who can be utterly disarming and alluring in one moment, and frighteningly violent in the next. There are some truly terrifying sequences of stalking and murder that are more characteristic of cinema than television, but therefore bring a heightened intensity to the suspense of the show.

But it is Carroll’s intellect that brings sophistication to The Following. Similar to Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, Carroll turns Hardy’s interrogations around, and it is the prisoner who reveals himself to be the one in control, the maestro conducting this symphony, with both his adversaries and his many followers–his cultists–mere instruments in his orchestra.

Check out this article on how the literary basis of Carroll’s obsessions translates into the format of the show, both in the sophistication of its premise and references, but also in its structure. What did you think of this much promoted series premiere?

Everybody’s Looking for Something in ‘The Following’
Liz Medendorp @ PopMatters

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The menacing tune of Marilyn Manson’s “Sweet Dreams” cover sets the tone for The Following, a macabre story of murder, mystery, and vengeance. The much promoted premiere, airing 21 January, provides chills and thrills, but it is this series’ complexity, grounded in literary influences, that may lead to a long and exciting run.

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