The age of technology! It is a wonderful time where the Internet allows so much to be shared with a push of a button. The media shared can bring lots of happiness, or quickly become a portal terror just like the theme of today’s movie review Unfriended. From the trailers you might expect:
- Found footage bologna we’ve grown accustom too
- A simplistic plot with more drama than actual story
- Gruesome kills that will chill you to the bone
- Acting that is simple
So what do you get? When it comes to found footage films, we have come to expect erratic, dizzying shots of our cast running from some unknown entity. Often we get more headaches than information, leading to frustration and lackluster films. Unfriended is told through the web camera of Blaire (Shelly Hennig), as she skypes, messages, and texts her beloved troop of friends. Being on the computer, the film was limited to mostly stationary footage of Blaire multitasking between instant messaging and video chatting. Many audience members I feel will relate and appreciate the portrayal of teenagers juggling communication with other websites, as the group participates in cheesy exchanges of humorous dialog. That is until the terror starts and the social media becomes an instrument of torture that shrewdly forces our group to confess. Now I can appreciate the ingenuity of using computers and the relevance, but this movie sometimes took this angle a little too far. One particular annoying part was watching Blaire try to phrase her messages, constantly retyping the same message and hesitating to press send. A good lesson indeed for the teenage population, but I didn’t need to see this five times in the movie.
With the interesting camera angle, perhaps the story had some quality to it. Unfriended does have a unique twist, cleverly manipulating the internet to develop the characters and dish out the terror. The biggest strength of this movie is the mystery of the hacker, the suspense of who will uncover the secret keeping me interested in the tale. Unfortunately it still suffers from the predictable Slasher formula starting with the convenient timing that all of their parents aren’t home, on a school night. A majority of the plot is based on uncovering their “Mean Girl” like secrets, horrible, and typical, high school antics that are old hat. It does add further depth to the characters, perhaps even adding some relatable qualities that high school students may latch on to. I however couldn’t stop laughing at how stupid these kids were and the mistakes they kept compounding. I wish I could say the revelation at the end made up for some of the lackluster elements, but the ending didn’t deliver the satisfaction I looked for, and quite honestly seemed like a cheap write off.
Let’s get to the kills you are most likely seeking from the trailer. Unfriended manages to think outside the box in terms of spilling blood, using mundane objects as the means for death. Two deaths in particular are disturbing, the web came giving you enough of the carnage to piece things together without dropping into extreme torture territory. I will admit many of these deaths are ridiculous, overdramatic messes that made some of the audience howl with laughter. Yet I can’t help but applaud their integration of the murder devices into a casual conversation, with the exception of one or two that were obvious foreshadows to their demise. I can’t say much more, or I might ruin this quality, but keep your eyes peeled. Oh well, at least the deaths are fairly “justified” by the mysterious hacker’s actions.
Acting wise, the cast does a good job capturing the stereotypical teenager role. They capture the emotional spectrum of their characters, from shallow minded gossip to the fear and terror of uncertain death. The dialog is definitely “realistic”, but my friend and I agree that all the petty arguing and screaming got old. We did however enjoy the mannerisms of CAPS LOCK and emoticons being used in the movie to mimic the current cyber chat trends. While the acting is okay, the limited characters were not ones I could grasp onto. They all were annoying idiots, whose cruelty and selfishness were over the top, taking away any sympathy I might have felt. Perhaps a good character might have helped balance the bad, but this movie held no moral spectrum other than teenagers being teenagers. Either way the acting is fine for the characters given, and some of the characters (who aren’t teens) were really cute.
Unfriended is not the best horror movie by a long shot, but it has taken an interesting tangent from the normal thriller movie. Teenager and young adults alike will find relevance in the modern technology used, but others may find this more of a comedy than a horror. This rather loud and obnoxious tale fails to deliver on a lot of other levels, and I can’t really recommend this one for a theater visit. Perhaps a Redbox rental is in your future for this one, otherwise let the intended audience tell you how it is.
My scores for Unfriended are:
Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0