Unfriended (2015)

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Cyberbully: The Haunting

Are you afraid of the dark? Great, now…are you afraid of skype? Well you should be! In all honesty, I think it’s a great idea to take the technical side of horror and expand on that. Expand on making things as real as possible – but real doesn’t necessarily mean scary either. You need a little bit of both – let your mind do the thinking once and a while. Instead, you get something a little tame, no matter how interesting it might initially be. I’m talking about Unfriended, the horror film that came out late last year? It has such a great concept, but the deeper you get into it, the more you realize just how lame it truly is.

Unfriended takes place entirely on a high school girl’s computer screen. If you are familiar with screen capturing software, that’s exactly how this movie works. She does everything you can possibly think a teenager would do on her mac computer – click, surf the web, chat with her boyfriend, listen to music. You know? Girl stuff. She also likes to group chat with all of her friends on Skype – which is when everything bad happens. A mysterious entity of sorts begins harassing the friends on Skype, iMessage, Facebook – anything really…and it appears to be an old friend of theirs. The only problem…is that friend committed suicide before the film began. Dun dun dunnnnn!

So there are things I liked about this movie a lot, and about the same vice versa. It actually fell into the same problem many other films face, and it’s really not their fault – it’s heavy on the technical aspects, but weak in the story. The technical side of things was really spot on, a lot more than other films like it. The sounds, the progression of actions, how everything looked. I mean…there was a heck of a lot of advertisements going on in this film, but if you a tech savvy person, it’s a serious relief to see people use Google instead of FinderSpider or Facebook instead of FriendBook. I get that it’s just commercials for the actual companies, but I’d rather see them than the fake stuff any day of the week.

If you pay attention, there’s also character development for the main character specifically. It’s not the kind you’re typically accustomed to, either. It’s simply how she acts and thinks while she’s going through her computer. How she decides to talk, how she corrects what she just wrote into something more logical. How when she’s hyperventilating, she’s making typos. It’s all very technical and in my opinion, one of the smartest portrayals I’ve ever seen from a Cyber-found footage film – which is a sub-sub genre that’s starting to make a name for itself.

On the other hand, Unfriended severely lacks in storytelling. If you want to make a supernatural film about a haunting, you have to do something other than internet stalking. There’s no way the ghost of a girl can hack into accounts, and remove system coding…which is something she’d have to do to gray out options on Facebook, or remove an X button on a browser. It just doesn’t make sense, and because of that, the audience simply doesn’t buy it. They might buy that the movie was filmed in a little over an hour on a teenage girl’s computer monitor, but the rest they’ll know is a sham. What ghost would focus so much on a Skype message…and would they be so vengeful that they’d use cyberbullying as an actual tactic. Is that somehow better than just outright haunting their homes? It just doesn’t make any logical sense.

I’ll admit I wanted to know how it’d end, even though you can probably guess the actual ending – the way it gets there can always be a mystery…and for a good chunk of the movie, it did just the right thing in order to keep the audience wondering what will happen next. Before I saw the film, I knew that it could potentially be the next Paranormal Activity, but it could also be something absolutely horrible at the same time. I like to see the bright side of things and say the technical side of things was actually done well, but who am I kidding? The story was awful.

The Good:

Technical things. It’s not a complete mystery why Rotten Tomatoes has this horror flick rated as a 61%, critics love technical elements in film – which this film had an abundance of. The one thing you can’t take away from this film is how hard it tried to make this computer screen absolutely believable, and it achieved that.

The Bad:

Characters, story, concept, logic. It’s really quite dumb, no matter how you look at it.

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