Ushering in a new era of horror, Universal Pictures’ Unfriended unfolds over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for a shaming video that led a vicious bully to kill herself a year earlier.
Starring: Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Shelley Hennig
Directed by: Levan Gabriadze
Writer: Nelson Greaves
Horror fans are continuing to be on the look out for something new in horror. Many are tired of remakes and found footage films. I've already seen a couple of films done by Skype, and know about some films shot entirely by iPhones. It seems as if that something new might be the different use of technology in horror, which brings us to "Unfriended."
The audience views the movie as if they’re on Blaire's (Shelley Hennig) computer the entire time. One of the first things she does is watch the shocking YouTube video of her friend, Laura Barn's (Heather Sossaman), death. Quite a depressing way to begin! Then technology is on full display, as she does a ton of different things throughout the movie like using iTunes, texting, web searches, video chat, YouTube, and Facebook. As it became apparent that the entire movie would be her computer screen, it made me wonder if this would hold my attention the entire time, but surprisingly it did.
It held my attention because of the completely chaotic video chat that ensues. Blaire, her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), and several friends are video chatting, but an unwanted caller that they can’t get off the line joins them. They think it's all a prank until it becomes seriously deadly for one of them. Panic sets in as they try desperately to drop the caller, but still are unsuccessful. At times Blaire and Mitch are having their own talk via text about Laura's death. Blaire does some Googling about online ghosts, as she has a hard time believing that Laura might be back for revenge.
Friendship is an important theme, as it's one of the main reasons for Laura's death. What's interesting is how Laura turns the supposed friends against each other before disposing of them. Just like Jigsaw, Laura wants them to play a game, which is called 'Never Have I Ever.' The game causes the friends to argue, call each other names, and turn against one another, as more and more secrets are revealed about each other. This might make you want to revisit your friendships!
So what about the deaths? Well Laura possesses each of the friends causing them to do something that results in their own death. It isn't that bloody because during most of the deaths the video chat breaks up allowing the audience to only see part of the death. In fairness, the video chat breaks up many times, so it isn't only during the death scenes. Even though the audience doesn't get to clearly see them, the deaths aren't too bad with Ken's (Jacob Wysocki) death being the best one.
For those who might not know, the original title for "Unfriended" was "Cybernatural” (good switch). This just shows how much they wanted to make the point that technology would play an important role in the movie. Hell, the ghost might have been more technologically advanced than I am! While it might take some time to get use to, watching the computer screen the entire time isn’t that bad. There’s enough tension and drama mixed in with a few laughs to keep the audience’s attention. The death scenes aren’t too bad, although it would have been nice to see them more clearly. I give them credit for trying something different so please don’t unfriend me if I give this movie 2.5 pools of blood.