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Despite the predictability of its genre, Unfriended delivers an effective and satisfying story.

 

The comforting sounds of the clicking of the computer keys, the assurance of knowing all your secrets are protected behind a password, a community for all your friends and family; there’s something rather comforting about sitting behind the computer. It’s the one place where a shy person’s personality can shine and, in some cases, hide behind. However, lying behind layers of firewall could be the one person who can expose those dark secrets. In Laura Barnes case, the internet made for one hellish situation when a recorded drunken night led to an unwelcome slew of online harassment and death threats by her fellow classmates resulting in the young teen taking her life.

 

 

The computer is where we find several of Laura’s classmates today; converging under the guise of Skype chatting about a concert they want to attend and random idle gossip, led by the friendly fresh-face Blaire. All seems well until what seems like a glitch joins them in their session. Nothing big at first, the glitch doesn’t talk nor text, it’s just there but it’s bothersome enough to creep out the group of friends, especially after noticing this glitch is occurring on the anniversary of Laura’s death.

 

 

Taking place over Skype, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and iTunes, the mysterious presence now claiming to be Laura slowly infects their programs. Out for revenge, a simple game of Never Have I Ever reveals a lot more than just alcoholism, their psyches and relationships with each other. We slowly watch the group; thick as thieves, friends and lovers descend into madness, mistrust, lies, secrets and death. Oh the lives these teenagers have led or pretended not to lead.

 

 

It’s been sixteen years since the most memorable “found footage” film, The Blair Witch Project, and twenty-six years since the first ever “found footage” film (no one seems to remember), McPherson Tape. Since then, Hollywood has been running amok with this rather stale genre. When Unfriended released its first trailer, it really didn’t stick out as much, but the concept seemed interesting enough. Honestly, and rather surprisingly, Unfriended is quite refreshing, despite its shoe-string budget and mostly improvised dialogue. Levan Gabriadze seemed to have understood the flow of teenagers and their heavy internet usage.

 

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The online interactions are hilarious but rather captivating, the switching back and forth between the numerous programs further proves that Gabriadze knows how the internet works today and has a strong gasp of online language. The audience is never stuck on a single screen for long periods of time, the constant changing of window screens create a salsa dance as Blaire seamlessly moves around her cursor to music or swooshing messenger senders and the dialing of Skype; all familiar sounds that slowly transform into haunting tones as the film progresses and Laura takes full control.

 

 

What soon becomes a familiar place for us all quickly becomes a living nightmare as we learn that Laura never forgets nor do the wicked go unpunished. The internet, that once safe haven quickly reveals unsavory photos of our teenagers that Facebook just can’t seem to delete, sex tapes and sessions that unknowingly record, revengeful memes where the act of “just unfriend” doesn’t exist. In just eighty-two minutes we are reminded just how fragile and unsafe the online world is and all it takes is just one person or ghost to bring our world to a horrific crash.

 

 

Unfortunately, the downside of the film is that, while it takes place completely on camera, it just shifts its focus to the “things that go bump in the night” and becomes completely uninspiring, boring and unnecessary. There is a certain cleverness to the online world and the film’s use of the supernatural; when the tension is moved into the physical, it’s a deafening reminder of the ridiculousness that is occurring and in limited darkened webcams reveals, it’s hard to visually scare the audience through a tiny, unfocused screen no matter the footage presented. What was meant to terrify, results in hysterical laughter and head shakes of disapproval.

 

 

Despite the “bump in the night” factor, Unfriended is fun, funny, refreshing and, at times, terrifying. There are numerous moments when yelling at the characters for their actions and for their lack of parental guidance (seriously where are their parents?) should be permitted. There are very real and recognizable crimes that these characters are punished for which should make people think before committing a cruel online action against another. While this isn’t the best horror movie out there, it is rather effective and pushes the genre in a satisfying direction.

 

About The Author

Dana Abercrombie
Brand Manager

Former genius and a woman of mystery and power, whose power is exceeded only by her mystery, Dana Abercrombie has been watching since birth (yes birth...we did say "genius"). Despite her secret desire of wanting to give it all up to become a gorgeous billionaire, Dana is most passionate about films often times getting in many heated debates resulting in being thrown out of many gatherings. Despite having a degree in English AND Journalism (multi-tasking FTW!) from the University at Albany-SUNY, she is currently interested in perusing a degree at Yale Law School, because one should never give up on a dream of becoming a gorgeous billionaire...and knowing how to sue someone as a result of those heated debates.