Unfriended presented me with a premise I just couldn't resist. With its Blu-ray/DVD release on August 11, what better time to review this unique, gory thriller, perfectly suited for the technologically savvy audience of our time. With a refreshing twist on the slasher genre, this surprising film may linger in your mind, even days after you've seen it!
Just a warning now, this review may contain spoilers.
Unfriended unfolds over an hour and a half through a high schooler's laptop screen. It stars Shelley Hennig, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, and Jacob Wysocki playing high school friends who get tortured by a ghostly online presence they assume to be their late friend, Laura. Unfriended diverts from the usual found-footage horror trends,done to death by the Paranormal Activity franchise, and delivers a surprisingly technological twist on the teen slasher genre.
With scandals like the iCloud Hacks that revealed celebrity's personal photos and the Ashley Madison Hacking that is now under threat of exposing the accounts of their adulterous users, it is apparent that the dangers of the internet and social media are on the rise. Unfriended reflects these latest horrors in a film that changes the setting of the genre from dark and scary woods to the unchartered waters of the web.
Horror films take a deep look into humanity and dives even deeper into the fears that everyone shares. For me, what determines a good horror flick is its lingering effect. My first dive into this genre was watching Stephen King's , "The Mist". To this day, I still feel the immense regret and pain felt by the main character after he killed three of his friends and his son just to immediately find saviour through the military. It's the lingering feeling of guilt, regret and utter remorse that stuck with me. I barely even remember any of the octopus monster, grocery store terrorising stuff.
Unfriended was a film that lacks the scare factor even with all its amped up gory moments. It lacks a thing called suspense. The only time I felt tension was the Printed Paper segment. Again, it wasn't the fact that these kids were being blackmailed or terrorised by the ghost of their friend that keeps the film in my mind. No, it's the feeling when Mitch realise his insistent in seeing the words on the page caused his best friend, Adam to become possessed and shoots himself in the face. It's the same feelings of guilt, regret and remorse that lingers, and that I, as the audience, can relate to.
The film wasn't just about endless self-inflicted pain and suicides depicted through the Skype screen but the flick exposed the eerie immorality of the teenagers. In some moments of the film, you can see that the teens were more concerns about what their alive friend has done to them more than what their dead friend is doing to them. With things like; ratting your best friend out to the police for weed possession, stealing $800 from your friend's bank account, or sleeping with boyfriend's best friend, the antagonist of the film had a lot of ammunition to fire on these angels.
Unfriended was as much about friendship and teenage morality as it was about ghost possession and gore but it's the former themes that resonated with me most and created that lingering effect. By the end of it all I just wondered what kind of secrets my friends are hiding from me and who would come out alive!