In today’s entertainment, landscape horror films are churned out with regularity and are never as entertaining as you would hope for. Stale plot lines, and a rehash of the same old killer demons, children, disfigured humanoid, etc. is boring moviegoers and they deserve a more creative homicidal figure to fear. Wouldn’t it be nice to have some other type of unseen evil to torment us as we go about our daily lives? Well perfect, “Unfriended" is right up your alley with a unique plot that involves a mystery online presence that is tormenting a group of friends as they communicate via a social internet chat room.
Six prototypical teenage friends engage in a fairly typical Skype-like video chat with each other on the anniversary of the day a member of the group committed suicide.
The events of her suicide and its cause are hinted at repeatedly in the opening minutes, as it is clear the members of the group share some form of guilt for their friends passing.
After a few minutes of mindless yammering, the teens are disturbed by a stranger into the video chat who hints at being the deceased friend, which prompts disbelief and anger from the members of the video chat.
Beginning with harmless bumps and dim lighting tricks, the film quickly begins attacking the cast. Through nothing more than the use of laptop recording cameras to convey it all to the audience, the film is eerily reminiscent of “The Blair Witch Project” in a cinematographic way.
Now the plot may not have many twists and turns to it, nor is the dialogue going to win any awards; but the film is fun, unique, and realistically terrifying.
Now aside from the simple ability to unplug such devices and go outside and be safe from this online poltergeist, the group begins to be tormented by the evil presence. Thoughts about this type of scenario playing out on my own laptop created anxiety that I had never felt before when using technology.
Maybe this is the new updated version of ghost story telling. Through social media and other video enabling applications, we could very well be witnessing the beginning of a new genre of horror films that correlate with teenagers like never before.
“Unfriended” almost seems as though it is giving the classic 'teens in the woods horror story' a face-lift, as it opts for a technological scope to terrify viewers through.
As the film winds down and the body count rises, you are left feeling the film could have done more with this concept of online terrorizing via an unknown force.
But really, the film does what I think was key to its level of success, it stays true to itself.
The film understands it isn’t going to be a revolutionary shift in cinematic filmmaking from a horror perspective, but it also set its sights on an untapped fear of the use of social media.
It intrigues me that filmmaker Leo Gabriadze made a film that attacks the comfort we feel when we are utilizing social media. I think he does it well and leaves a permanent hesitation on myself to use Skype again.
In closing, it is clear to me that this film has tapped into an alternate setting to instill fear into its audience and I think it effectively does so. Better than most movies out this time of year when Hollywood is gearing up for summer blockbusters, this film can keep you entertained until then.
“Unfriended” receives a 2.5/5 from me and I would recommend this film for technology users who may find the content especially frightening. Aside from a few jumps and blood curdling screams, this film is not a whole lot more than an average horror film.