Author: Dylan King – 2/4
We are living in a time where horror movies are in a stagnant slump. An interesting idea comes to life and gives audiences something to think about, only to be milked and franchised almost immediately. Following in the veins of earlier found footage films, Unfriended (Gabriadze, 2014) adds a new twist to the genre. Instead of someone with a camera filming all the action, the film is entirely set on a persons computer screen. This is definitely a new idea, but comparing the trailers to the actual film, a few things were dropped. Because the characters are supposed to be with their computer at all times, it wouldn’t make sense for them to go outside, and just so happen to place the “camera” in a position to watch them die.
In this regard, any film viewer worth their salt will guess one of two scenarios; it’s a person trying to kill them, or a supernatural force. Whichever way you look at it, you will not be surprised; it’s a ghost. The film revolves around a group of friends who “meet up” via skype or whatever tele-monitor system they use. They notice a stranger is with them, and things escalate to a deadly game of “Never have I ever”. The point of the plot is to figure out who posted an embarrassing video of a friend that lead to their suicide.
To me, this film is a study of the youth culture of the day, and how horrible and selfish they are. If you notice your friend past out in a wretchedly embarrassing situation, chances are you would protect them. But not in this movie, they just film it and share it, leading to constant mockery and cyber-bullying leading to one escape, death. During one of the interactions with the entity, the lead character played by Shelley Hennig, says they don’t deserve what’s happening to them and that they are good people, to which the spirit replies, “We’ll see”. It also says that whoever posted the video steps up, everything will be over. In the end, we find out who posted the video, and instead of fessing up, they lie hoping to be spared by selling out their last remaining friend.
The deaths start out rather well, which is a pleasant surprise. Instead of throwing the gore at the audience as soon as possible, the filmmakers go for a subtle approach. The first casualty is a frozen screen of a girl sitting on a stool or something, just staring toward the camera. The mise-en-scene explains what horror has happened. While she sits frozen with a blank expression on her face, there is a broken mirror in the background, showing signs that something is wrong, but what drives home the terror is that she is in the laundry room; a carton of bleach is next to her. Then the camera falls on the floor, and police show up and report there was a suicide. The friends hear this from their feeds, and then the game begins. The rest of the deaths aren’t too gory actually. The second death cuts in and out of the act, which does contain some graphic violence, but it’s the worst of all of them. The film starts out as being smart, but it quickly resorts to jump scares, with loud noises during silence.
All in all, the film is o.k. The acting is overly sophomore, and the conversations and arguments will hopefully make the viewer realize how pathetic and insignificant teenage problems are. The suspense will definitely lure the viewer in, and the jump scares will keep them on their toes. It’s one of those films to watch once if you’re into the genre, but it offers nothing worth returning to for repeat veiwings.