Sunday, 3 January 2016

Unfriended

"Unfriended" (2014, Leo Gabriadze, Bazelevs Company, Blumhouse Productions, Universal Pictures) is a modern horror featured around the dangers of the internet and how being an asshole can have a price tag. Or something.

It's been a year since high school student, Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) committed suicide after being publicly humiliated by a drunken video online. Her friends Blaire (Shelley Hennig), Mitch (Moses Jacob), Adam (Will Peltz), Jess (Renee Olstead), Ken (Jacob Wysocki) and Val (Courtney Halverson) are meeting online for a group Skype conversation when they notice that a random has joined in. Confused, they try to shake them, but it seems like this creeper can't be gotten rid of so easily.

Soon, they begin to each receive random and threatening messages and notice that Laura's Facebook has been hacked and is posting private messages, videos and other weird things. They decide to give up when the random, who they find is using Laura's old Instagram account, chimes in warning them that if they do, one of them will die. Some of their own profiles begin to do strange things too, and a fight is sparked when Jess appears to be sharing humiliating pictures of Val at a party.

One by one, each person is forced to reveal horrific secrets they've been keeping that make my "rebellious" teenage years look really, really tame. As the friendships die, so do some of the friends in apparent suicides.... But why?

It's a good premise and it's executed as well as it can be. There's a lot of reading involved and it must have been a damned cheap film to make. The scares will really only suffice for a younger generation and computer literate audience. Essentially, we're just sat watching over someone's shoulder (Blaire's) looking at her screen while the events unfold. We're also talking the usual pretty laggy Skype video quality we all know and love...

So, whilst I commend it for being about a pretty tricky subject (cyber bullying) and for having a good, modern gimmick, it does suffer for being a touch too gimmicky. We could have done with less friends to watch die for a start, since the death scenes have such little payout. Really the film could have been a bit shorter and still packed a punch. However, I enjoyed the mystery of it all and watching it all unfold. And it's always funny to watch people argue and get called out for lies and bad behaviour. There's also a lesson in here for being a nice person... and not posting mortifying videos of your mates at their worst.

Really, these guys were just the worst kind of people. Wow.

Some of the deaths are pretty impressively captured, despite the medium used. It's not the kind of film you can watch again and again, but I have to say it surpassed my expectations quite well.

[Image: Universal Pictures, et al]
Hani