There are a few things that you can come to expect with 90% of most movies that fall into the "found footage" (ff) category. There will be a camera point of view done by an angry chimpanzee with Parkinson's disease. There will be plenty of foul language and weak ad libbing to replace any meaningful dialogue that would require decent actors. It will take place in the woods or an abandoned asylum. If you don't know, Unfriended uses the gimmick of the entire movie taking place on one computer monitor in real-time. With that in mind, I had average expectations that this movie and I would be the best of friends.
Unfriended manages to be very formulaic in its "writing." It has three clear acts that play out almost to textbook perfection. A computer screen appears and we watch a cursor navigate over the screen. It opens on a video of a girl committing suicide. Flash forward ahead and we see our heroine start a Skype conversation that eventual grows into a "get together" among friends. My first real thought was "Why are they not just hanging out with each other in person?" They all lived in the same town. No offense, but none of them were socially awkward geeks that could only communicate via chatroom. There were several of these types of questions throughout the movie. Not deal-breakers, but a little annoying once your realized them. However, the flow of the movie was excellent both in storytelling and in technical movie-making. There was far more direction with the dialogue than almost every other ff movie.
The acting ranges from decent to "typical for an indie movie". The best the group, Jess (played by Renee Olstead) and Val (Courtney Halverson). Most of them are okay. None of them are "porn bad." My complaint with the characters is that they looked like the team from Captain Planet and the Planeteers. They had the brunett, the blond, the guy with a heart, the @sshole, and the "funny" fat guy (Let's be honest. That group would not have hung out with him without a good reason because they all had that "popular" look). All they were missing was a black character and a cripple.
There was a small disconnect with the deaths that was enough to make a couple of them and the reactions bad. There is a flaw in most horror writer's ability to generate sincere reaction to horrific events happening. Not long after a few tragedies witnessed by our group occur, we find them laughing about something.
Some may find the movie a tad preachy. I don't know there is a good way to tackle a subject like that on the average pre-teen / teen. In any case, the point of it is clear and takes the driver's seat through most of the scenes. There is a moment where the action comes to a frustrating halt in order to wade through teen drama that, in light of what they are going through at the time of the movie, is of low importance. It is misplaced whining that would have served better earlier in the movie.
They solved the "shaking camera" nonsense. Time and care were taken to create a true story; the skills of writing were not abandoned for the sake of laziness. What problems existed merely needed a touch up. While I didn't leave the movie unnerved, I do think it managed to be suspenseful. Gimmicks are almost mandatory for getting these kinds of movies noticed and they had one, but didn't rely on it throughout. If you get a chance, I recommend adding this to your friend list...but only as an acquaintance.