Released: April 17, 2015. Directed by: Levan Gabriadze. Starring: Shelley Hennig, Will Peltz, Moses Storm. Runtime: 1hr., 23 min.
Deriving inspiration from such suicides as Audri Pott and Amanda Todd, “Unfriended” uses the internet as a platform for its jump scares.
For six high school seniors, life is great – until they join a six-way Skype chat. A year ago today, a high school junior named Laura Barns shot herself on school grounds. The reason: Relentless cyberbullying after an embarrassing video of her was posted online anonymously.
On the anniversary, a mysterious force uses Laura’s Skype account to torment the teens. If they sign off, or unfriend her, there will be dire consequences.
I’ll say off the bat that the exploitative horror film uses subjects like teen suicide and bullying to portray its premise – which feels insensitive to how many people it affects.
But, I understand that horror films exploit so it’s not enough for me to boycott the film. One thing I can’t get past is the lacklustre narrative.
The only development the main antagonist gets is that it claims to be Laura’s spirit, and can make those who get tests from the dead commit suicide and reveal secrets.
Blaire finds this out when she searches ‘texts from the dead’ online and goes to Unexplained Forums – where all the information is in a tidy little package.
The spirit tries to unveil the mystery of who posted the video online, and uses information about them as ammunition to turn them against each other in creative ways.
The cast cries and freaks out a lot. The cast is decent for a film that was originally to be made-for-TV – including Jacob Wysocki from “Fat Kid Rules the World” and Will Peltz.
Blaire (Shelley Hennig, TV’s “Teen Wolf”) is a rather daft main character who’s convinced that the presence must be one of the people in the chat pulling a wicked prank.
The cast, who have to act really anxious, are helped carrying the film considerably by online messages and articles. The film has strong anxiety-heavy sequences and a sporadically unsettling tone, but nothing that terrifies.
The slack narrative doesn’t set it apart from other horror features. Its innovative mock Skype interface that’s used for the frame of the film holds a memorable aspect.
It’s told in one shot on a computer screen. It’s innovative for that reason, but moviegoers can simply watch this from the comfort of their own homes – because the characters never leave theirs.
Score: 60 out of 100