This Day in Horror

17 April 2015

Unfriended 2015 - REVIEW


It's not very often that I go out to the theater for a new release. Hollywood has become so inundated with remakes, reboots, prequels and whatever else they can come up with to pull from existing films that it's hard to get excited when big production companies release something new. Besides, in this day and age when just about everything you do is recorded on social media, I'm surprised it took this long for a film like this to come out. When I got the chance to sit in on advanced screening of Unfriended, I thought "Meh, why not".

The film begins with Blaire (Shelley Hennig) Skype chatting with her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm). Soon, five of their other friends join in and a split screen chat party ensues. It's not long before a cyber interloper crashes the party. Thinking someone is playing a joke on them, Blaire does a little digging and finds the account belongs to Laura Barns (Heather Sossamon), a friend of the group that committed suicide exactly one year earlier. After a short discussion about who could be behind the hack, everyone puts their hands up only to have the the intruder continue sending messages. Hurling insults, making threats and revealing secrets, "the ghost" slowly turns the group against each other and then the supernatural activity begins.

 Unfriended (originally titled Cybernatural) plays out on multiple windows from Blaire's laptop. There's the main Skype windows where you find the usual suspects, Blaire, her boyfriend, his best friend, the fat dude, the bitchy but cool chick and the uber sensitive chick. Then there are the background windows, private iMessages, Facebook chats, YouTube videos and Safari search engines all quite brilliantly set up by Russian director Levan Gabriadze. It's definitely a new take on an old story, i.e., a vengeful ghost returns to torment those who wronged them in some way.

Unlike most films, what you see in the trailer is pretty much what you get. There really isn't much more in the way of a plot. Gabriadze does a good job at increasing the tension at the right moment and keeping the momentum of the film going throughout.

Writer Nelson Greaves did a stellar job on the dialogue (spoken and written). It all seemed to be pretty right on with the level of texts I get from my own teenagers; lots of "ughs" and abbreviations and over exclamating (is that even a word?).

Overall, I found Unfriended to be quite enjoyable and would recommend it, especially as a starter horror as it doesn't have a ton of jump scares or blood. It's quite a successful little experiment in meta horror. Let's just hope they don't get carried away with sequels. 

A word of advice though, if/when you go to the theater to catch this one, sit as far back from the screen as you can because trying to follow all the mouse clicks and screen changes is worse than watching a live tennis match and you could quite possibly end up with whiplash.

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