Starring: Shelley Hennig, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz
Written by: Nelson Greaves
Directed by: Levan Gabriadze
Six friends who bullied a girl who committed suicide find themselves being tormented online by someone claiming to be the dead girl.
Unfriended is a surprisingly good, surprisingly scary film told only through the screen of a computer. Shockingly effective, this film will have you on the edge of your seat, despite the bare bones plot. At a scant hour and twenty two minutes, the film doesn’t wear out it’s welcome and the general concept of a film told only through a single computer screen is a nice twist on the found footage genre. I enjoyed Unfriended and actually found myself unnerved at times.
A year after the suicide of Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), a notorious school bully, friends are having a Skype chat when they encounter someone else on their call, someone they think is just an internet troll. Eventually, things start getting deadly as the friends try to figure out what is happening.
In a world where everyone is connected to everything and bullying has been taken to new and outrageous heights with said connectivity, Unfriended is a film that is very modern in it’s execution and very old school in it’s slow build up of tension. We are all connected now to everything. As I sit here writing this review, I am connected to my computer, which is synced to my iPhone, which is synced to my tablet. My Xbox One is always online and synced to my PC. My Nintendo 2DS is always online. When the internet goes down, if only for a moment, we wonder what has happened and what we are going to do, instantly jumping from wifi to our cellular data connection. It is how we live, this inter-connectivity with the internet, our devices and our information and misinformation. We are always online, all the time. This has led to new avenues of thought, as well as new avenues of bullying.
As you hear of the rate of teen suicide due to cyber bullying, news articles everyday about someone somewhere who couldn’t handle the constant barrage of torment and insults, I have wondered why this younger generation has such soft skin. When I was younger, I was bullied. I may have done some bullying of my own. We learned from it. We grew. We toughened up. We didn’t have the 24/7 constant barrage. We left school, came home, and it was over. Now, kids get it at school, come home and get it online as well. It is a tough thing for some people. The question is, why don’t they just disconnect? Well, we really can’t anymore, can we? Socially, it is worse to go off the grid than it is to just suffer the abuse.
These last two paragraphs tie directly into this film. Constant connectivity and bullying. While I didn’t find either of the concepts in the film overly heavy handed, the film did make me think of these things. This is a thoroughly modern film, and your understanding of computers and this connectivity are going to affect your enjoyment of the film. If you cannot multitask on your own PC, this movie is not for you. You have to get into the mindset of being on a PC to watch this film, and for some, that is a lot to ask. If you are not used to multitasking, you will find this film exhausting. There is a lot going on at every step. Flipping between Skype to Facebook to instant messaging. This is constantly going on in the film. Which is why it may make little sense when I say the film is a bit of a slow burn horror film.
You would think with all of the instant messages, Skyping and whatnot that the film would be a mile a minute affair. And it is. What it so masterfully does, though, is slowly ratchet up the tension despite the constant multitasking. Before you know it, you are on the edge of your seat, the tension you feel as the characters in the film begin to get it. It is very well done and there is honestly nothing else like it.
Offering a unique take on the found footage genre, while delivering a thoroughly modern horror film, Unfriended is a film like no other. A slow burn horror film while blitzing through social media, this is a film that has done something unexpected. It offers an enjoyable film while making a statement about society that is not as heavy handed as you might think. I thoroughly enjoyed Unfriended, and think it is a standout in modern horror films. See this.
*** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- The film was shot in one long take, with the cast on actual computers.
- Shelley Hennig also starred in that travesty of a film, Ouija. (I add the link, but please don’t buy it . . .it really is a terrible movie.)