'This is Gonna Be Fun'
Unfriended is directed by Levan Gabriadze (Yolki 2, Lucky Trouble) and stars Shelley Hennig (Ouija, The Secret Circle), Jacob Wysocki (Pitch Perfect, Terri), Renee Olstead (The Secret Life of an American Teenager), Will Peltz (In Time, The Collection), Moses Storm and Heather Sossaman. 'A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.' The marketing for the film says that it 'revolutionises' the horror genre, similarly to The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity - but does it do it successfully?Will Unfriended be blocked or accepted?
Unfriended is a strange one - it has so many unique elements and is incredibly original but it lacked a little with being scary. Many critics have said that the actual plot (besides the supernatural element) is quite believable - I really agree with this, the film works. Unlike Ouija, Blumhouse have managed to produce a film that is unique and scares you in a different way. The film does take its time to kick into gear as there is lots of faffing around over the mysterious account before it says or does anything. Also, don't be fooled by that impressive trailer, a large portion of them scenes are not actually included in the film - characters die differently to what you expect and some things don't even happen (e.g. 3,2,1 Lights Out). However, this is good in some ways as it helps the film to be a little less predictable.
Like I do in most of my reviews, I'm going to get the negatives out of the way first. I had 3 major issues - the first being that the film drags out some scenes and sequences a little too long. For example, the 'Would You Rather' segment is effective at first but becomes a little repetitive after a while. The second issue I have is that there is lots of waiting - you literally have to wait for files to download which causes more stress than tension. My final big issue is some of the characters are quite dislikable - they are Ken and Adam. Ken wants to be the centre of attention while Adam doesn't really say much then suddenly perks up and starts shouting over everyone else - SPOILER: the director made a good choice by having them as two of the first characters to go. I also want to point out that I initially left the cinema feeling extremely underwhelmed - however, this film sticks in your mind and some elements that I hadn't appreciated before, I have remembered and reflected on. Unfriended is one of them films that you should let sink in before judging.
I thought that the acting was generally quite good in this film considering that none of them had that much experience. As you might remember, Shelly Hennig was one of the few actors that I liked in Ouija, I thought she was very good here and held the film very well. Her reactions to the events that occurred were incredibly believable which shows that the director made a good choice in having the cast improvise to sudden plot changes. No one else really stood out that much but then again, no one really had a stand out bad performance either.
Now lets talk about the scares. I actually believe I may have spoiled some of the scares by watching tonnes of clips of the film on Youtube which showed quite a few of them. I thought after a while, the scares did become a little predictable - the person would sign off, Blaire would call them back, the screen would freeze, a loud sound would occur and the person would be in the process of dying a gruesome death. However, I did jump a couple of times - especially at the end which I thought was very effective. The ending impressed me because after a whole film of looking at a computer screen, the film seamlessly transitioned into real life and provided a good scare.
I also liked the realism that was created. Even though they were only little factors, Blaire just surfing the web or having general conversations with her boyfriend all helped to create a verisimilitude. I also liked the fact that Blaire put music on whilst doing all this which is also very realistic. Even though it did become irritating, the fact that the Skype chat wasn't seamless and that signal was lost and the voices didn't always matched the lip movement was also very realistic.
Unfriended is a satisfyingly unique entry into the horror genre. Even though it has a few major flaws and is a tad boring at times, these factors can be overlooked when you take into consideration an impressive performance by Shelley Hennig, a few effective jump scares and the realistic approach that was taken. Unfriended could have been smarter but maybe Unfollowed, Unsubscribed, Unfriended Again, Blocked and the endless amount of sequels that this will get will improve on this films mistakes. The film is not forgettable and is quite psychological as it looms around in your mind when you are using technology. Unfriended gets a like from me.