‘Filmed’ entirely using social media mediums ‘Unfriended’ is a unique and ambitious horror movie which pits 6 unwitting friends against the ghost of one of their former classmates.
The plot sees Blaire and her closest friends stuck in a chat room with an anonymous account that they cannot get rid of. Initially they consider the anomaly just that, but when various personal and threatening posts are made they begin to realise that the ‘glitch’ is somehow related to a girl whose recent suicide they all played a part in.
As I mentioned in my opener ‘Unfriended’ is shown in its entirety from a Mac screen, through several different social media apps – predominantly Skype, Facebook and Messenger a gimmick which ultimately becomes one of the films biggest hang-ups – but more on that later.
Despite its unique perspective, the plot plays out as most by the numbers teen horrors do. Witless teens obsessing over their first world problems, a plotline which could be written on a postage stamp and a nice collection of gruesome (albeit unlikely) deaths of aforementioned teens. The story begins well, and it does need to be said, the change of perspective grabbed me. I was fairly amazed at how quickly I got used to the screen skipping and exposition shown, quite literally as on-screen text. It certainly held my attention, and it wasn’t until about the 45-minute mark I realised that I had perhaps seen the best, or at least got the measure of, the films direction and content.
Past this, the trivial plot, which despite a strong start which included a healthy dose of the expected social commentary about online usage, responsibilities and the dangers of interconnectivity, eventually descends into a 40-odd minute long game of ‘never have I ever’ to wit the loser gets offed.
The acting is far, far above average, although the characters are sadly, very average. The editing, including authentic glitches and sound effect gives the films a sense of urgency and its intended real-time effect. As I’ve said, the acting really is great, each of the relatable personas feel ‘real’ and the inane babble is engaging and organic feeling. The atmosphere is tense and some of the jump-scares do well to hit their mark. Whilst for the most part the ghost taunts from the screen, taking control of the groups computers and posting incriminating images and video, occasionally one of the group are possessed and kill themselves. The effects in these scenes are notably violent, if a little obscured by web-cam lag and limited screen space. Despite not a lot being shown, you definitely get the idea that these kills are somewhat brutal, and by brutal, I mean knives in the face, hands in blender and the consumption of a curling tongue, to cite a few!
Overall, ‘Unfriended’ is well worth a watch if you are in any way intrigued by the concept. I am not going to lie, had the film be shot in the traditional manner, it would have fallen just south of average, but I admired the ambition. Ultimately, the films perspective saw the films later half drag a little as its angles and scope for footage became as restrictive in the later scenes as it was novel in the first instance. Still, as part of an evenings wider entertainment its worth a go for the right price.