So I just got back from seeing Unfriended, the new cyber-horror film that, appropriately enough, has been the cause of much discussion on the same social media sites that it utilizes into it’s plot. This movie actually struck me as much more of a suspense thriller than the spookshow that the trailer suggested, but there is actually a lot to enjoy here.
So the film opens with the screen on young Blaire’s (Shelley Hennig) laptop. The gimmick that the film presents us with, though, is that we are looking at this screen for 99.9% of the movie. It all seems to play in real time and it really works more often than not. The plot is fairly simple. Blaire is on a Skype call with a few of her friends on what happens to be the anniversary of the night that another friend of theirs committed suicide. He dead girl’s name is Laura(Heather Sossaman who only appears briefly in the film via Youtube vids).
The group are all talking and joking and the dialogue seems really natural. If you live in a campus town like I do, you know that there is a big difference between how teens communicate in movies, and how they communicate in reality. Hats off to screenwriter Nelson Greaves for creating some very realistic back and forths for these kids. Anyways, it isn’t too long before the Skype convo is interrupted by a mysterious figure with no avatar. Of course the audience figures out long before the characters do that Laura’s spirit behind it, and is royally pissed off at them.
I don’t want to go too much further into the plot. If you have seen the trailers for Unfriended, you pretty much know what to expect. This is not a movie that has misleading ads at least as far as the plot is concerned. Obviously though, for the sake of this review, there are things I want to touch on.
First, the good: This is a smart thriller. If you are into horror films, then I am sure you can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into the supernatural aspects of this film. Social media is not only an important tool in the film. In fact, it is almost it’s own character. “Laura” uses the internet to taunt the group, revealing horrible secrets about them and then playing How You Lie Lie Lie by Connie Conway on Blaire’s Spotify. The majority of the entertaining elements in the film are based around how frivolously some people utilize such apps.
The acting is very decent as well, especially since I can only imagine the tricky nature of making the whole film seem like one take. Also, the deaths are kinda neat. Since we are viewing all of this over a video call, the distortions in the images and sound add to the shock value of these sequences. My personal favorite involved a hair curler. Also, as I mentioned before, you believe in how these kids are reacting to the horror of it all. There weren’t too many times that I thought “What the Hell is he/she doing? Idiot!” over the course of the film.
Now for the not so good: As intense as parts of the movie are, I had trouble sympathizing with the characters. All the teens are portrayed as backstabbing, unfaithful, and overall obnoxious. And I honestly couldn’t even side with “Laura” all that much. When you do find out why she punched her own ticket, it is sad and you understand why she wants vengeance. On the other hand though, the video footage that we see of her reveals her to be no prize piece herself. She is described as a bully and she seems kinda like a snide diva. I feel like this took me out of the film in some instances cause I was more worried about how many loud notification bleeps I was in for than I did about anybody surviving or not.
Of course that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t think many people will flock to see Unfriended in order to see a complex character study. They will go for the scares. And Unfriended certainly has some good scares.
The only other thing that really bugs me is the ending. I won’t spoil it of course but I am referring to the last 80 seconds or so of screen time. But at that point in the film, you are expecting some kind of reveal. Something is gonna come at you and make you jump. But when we get that final shock, I almost feel like it could have been handled differently. I definitely get the point of it, but I don’t like how it was put together and I feel like the evil entity in the film deserved something more.
Overall, I enjoyed Unfriended. I know a lot of people won’t though and I understand why. If you are able to comprehend that this is more Ringu than Mean Girls in it’s ambitions, you will have a fun night at the theater. However, if you have never made a Skype call or used many of the apps featured in the film, you may be a bit lost or even a little bored. Know what you are getting into and enjoy the ride. You might not play Never Have I Ever again.
originally posted by HorrorFix Contributor Colin Price