I didn’t know anything about this movie aside from that it technically existed but then I won tickets to go see it. I kind of wish I had just gone in blind instead of watching the trailer. I’m not usually one of those people that complains about the trailers ruining a movie but they really did spoil two of the best shock sequences of the movie. That being said, a movie based entirely around the concept of a haunted Skype chat seemed like it was going to be weak at best and completely hokey at worst.
What was interesting to me was that the movie entirely doubled down on the concept. We see everything that happens in this movie from the perspective of a computer desktop. Specifically, we get the perspective of Blaire, a young girl that has some secrets. Over the course of the film, all of those secrets and those of her friends will be brought into the light due to the ghost of her friend haunting the internet and occasionally that also gives her the ability to poltergeist some stuff. Her friend died because of an embarrassing video being posted which led to cyber bullying which led to suicide which led to being a motherfucking murder-ghost with vaguely defined powers. So, you know, not the worst trade that could happen.
The whole thing was apparently done in one take, with all of the actors just occupying different rooms of the same house. The characters were interesting, though the ones with the most personality that you would actually want to see more of either die early or end up getting forgotten for stretches of time as the movie focuses on some teen drama. The teen drama is at least done well with good performances put in by most of the cast for the whole thing. Sadly, through the course of the film, we also come to find out that most of these people are completely awful assholes so there isn’t really anyone to root for. The movie has some humor but most of it comes from “lol teen girls amirite” moments that happen while Blaire is chatting using stereotypical chat speak. While looking at a computer screen isn’t the most conducive to terror, they did a good job of creating tension and not solely relying on jump scares.
The entire concept of the film was innovative with continued uses of various internet and social media things that tied everything together. Some of these were used well such as during a moment of tension having the Skype call music suddenly start playing as a jump scare. Other times the movie tried to make a Facebook chat seem threatening but there is just no way to actually make that happen. The movie also uses a lot video artifacting and distortion effects to make things more unsettling. I mentioned that there was chatting involved and that was the weakest point for me. Every time Blaire decides to IM her boyfriend or Facebook chat with a dead chick, the movie hits pause on everyone else as their voices fade into the background and nothing interesting happens with them while we get someone typing “omg are u doing this” and “ugh wtf”.
The movie definitely felt ambitious and tried to do something that hasn’t been done much before. I also always like when a movie tries to incorporate normal things as what is scary even if it does mean this movie is going to look suuuuper dated in a few years time. Overall, I’d give Unfriended a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a decent little horror flick that isn’t going to top anyone’s favorites but manages to mostly hang together.
Favorite part of the movie: A ghost uses her incredible, spooky powers to force some teenagers to play the worst game of “Never have I ever”.
Least favorite part: Who the hell plays “Never have I ever” with the rule that you only drink after you’ve admitted to five things? How am I gonna get hammered like that?