@calcium_waste reviews Unfriended, calls it a murderous fusion of terror and social media…
This year has been incredibly lax for great horror films, and disappointingly so. Not only has there been a limited number of releases for the genre, but the quality of many of this year’s releases have been tedious and less than mediocre—with perhaps the only exception being David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows.” And yes, I’m very excited for the upcoming Sinister 2 and Insidious: Chapter 3. But as far as modern horror with original style and creativity goes, Unfriended broke an interesting mold in the genre, and will likely influence horror to come.
Taking place entirely in real time on the protagonist’s MacBook computer screen, Unfriended treads new water for found-footage cinema by depicting the genuine feeling of being on your laptop, or really, the feel that you’re watching someone browse through Facebook, iMessage, Skype, YouTube, Spotify—you name it. I think she has Jezebel on her bookmarks bar. The movie has believable progression due to its relevance on our age in technology and the cliché terms we all hear or say to one another. There have been few other films that have previously utilized this “computer screen found footage” approach—The Den, V/H/S—though none have done it as expertly paced and intricately stylish as Unfriended. This film is undoubtedly a timely horror film for the social media generation, making generous odes to the sites and apps mentioned above, in addition to Snapchat, Instagram, and ChatRoulette. While this makes for an entertaining experience, the film holds the distinct mark of today’s relevant technology, preventing it from ever being considered timeless. It will definitely be regarded a cult classic for our generation, much like Paranormal Activity was eight years ago. It also holds a similarity to The Ring. Ultimately, Unfriended is a relatable and shockingly dark experience, which is what allows it to get under the skin of the social-media-obsessed, myself included.
Unfriended opens with a cluttered Macbook desktop screen—a setting that will remain for the film’s entirety. Our protagonist, Blaire Lily, is watching the suicide video of Laura Barnes, a girl who shot herself in public due to online bullying. This was recorded exactly one year prior to the events portrayed in the film. Before committing suicide, photos and videos of a highly inebriated Laura Barnes were posted online for all to see, including one where she is passed out in a dark alley and the video focuses on her having soiled herself. Blaire closes the screen and we first see her as she’s Skyping with her boyfriend, teasing video sexting before their entire group of friends join the chat as they are undressing. The friends laugh, of course, and all get along with their own individual spark, yet each are a play on the clichéd nature of high-schoolers.
Blaire and her boyfriend, Mitch, keep in contact through iMessage on their computers as they begin to recieve sinister messages from Laura Barnes’ Facebook page. Blaire attempts to report the page because she believes a person has hacked it, and when she is unable to, she “unfriends” Laura Barnes—and the film goes psychotic from there. Laura Barnes’ account hacks onto all of the friends’ computers and forces them to play a macabre game that grows more and more savage. The film uses glitches and other computer effects to create a unique and boggling experience, and its relentlessness becomes explosive during its second half. It is an expertly paced and wholly unparalleled experience. Yes, it has cliché moments, as expected from horror, but this could also be interpreted as the film’s self-awareness as a play on clichés.
Honestly, this all chalks up to: GO SEE IT. IT’S CREEPY AND FUN.