Unfriended is the latest studio release looking to bank off the most recent wave of hand held footage films, but as a twist, this time the villainous murderer is a social media stalking, screen name killer.
Back in my day killers weren’t just screen names! They were masked mad men running through cornfields with chainsaws, lunatics who terrorized teens in their nightmares or psychos living in sewers.
Times change, and so does the constantly evolving horror landscape so when I was asked to review this film I was intrigued to see how two hours would play out with a digital killer.
As a warning I should tell you that Unfriended takes places solely on a computer screen. Not like the footage is pulled from a computer screen and is somewhat grainy webcam footage. I mean from start to finish the entire film takes place within a computer screen.
Look at what your screen and desktop looks like now as you read this review. For example, mine has iTunes open, a couple Word docs, few Safari windows with long forgotten tabs and shopping carts spilling over.
So that is on the screen pretty much for the entire time.
What happens is a group of friends find themselves being tormented via social media and in private group chat sessions by what appears to be a deceased classmate. One by one their friendship is tested by the truth surrounding the late classmate that took her own life following the taunting she received after a video of her intoxicated went viral.
Unfriended is what you would expect of a movie with this sort of storyline and plays it safe as the first film of its kind to hit the big screen. It’s safe to say it won’t go on to be a cult classic or captivate audiences, but it is the first film of its kind in horror…sort of.
Unlike Wes Craven’s SCREAM collection or the release of When a Stranger Calls before it in 1972. Unfriended doesn’t quite use technology and its ability to terrify in the same frightfully delightful fashion.
There is no build up or breaks from the computer screen leaving it feeling flat with very few actual scares minus a few decently executed kill scenes.
While I was probably one of the oldest people in the theatre (FYI I’m in my late 20’s) I was curious to know how this generation of teens found a screen name spirit to be as far as being scary. If anything the scariest part about this movie was the effects, albeit paranormal ones, that bullying on social media carries and that some things and people especially online never really die or disappear once they are uploaded.
To be honest, it wasn’t as corny as I had anticipated and did actually have a message at the end of the film that isn’t always the case (or needed) in horror.
On the bright side after leaving this film I closed my laptop and turned off my phone for the night. After watching nothing but a screen filled with emoticons, internet lingo and social media stalking, I so desperately needed and wanted to unplug. Something tells me you might do the same, that’s even if you bother to watch Unfriended. Which is no real loss if you don’t, just sayin’…
Felicia Mancini, writing for A Girl’s Guide to Horror.