Originally titled Cybernatural but switched up to Unfriended, the new title is fitting as this neat little horror flick shows what can happen when you get on the wrong side of someone and do them wrong. Who would’ve thought a 90 minute film set entirely on a laptop screen would sustain tension, atmosphere and your full attention? Director Leo Gabriadze does a great job of starting a deadly situation with a simple incident and then holds onto you until the shocking reveal encases the screen with terror.
The suicide of Laura Barnes shocked the students of a high school in Fresno, California, after an embarrassing video leaked onto YouTube causing her endless torment and her eventual death. A year later, Blaire Lily and her friends Mitch, Jess, Adam and Ken are online over video chat when they are joined by a mysterious sixth party named “billie227” who claims to be Laura. After many failed attempts to rid of their unwanted guest, the faceless user begins to attack them, sending their night into one of shocking truths, violence and death.
I thought Unfriended benefitted superbly from its laptop screen set story. You cannot look anywhere else, there are no landscapes or corridors you can avert your eyes too, its uniqueness comes from the tight environment. Character development is well executed through some backstory but mostly their personalities and also how characters type, or delete what they want to send. Their hesitations, desktop organisation, personal touches and erratic mannerisms as they scroll and click onscreen all build their characteristics. It’s fascinating to watch and peak into these unlucky teens.
The jump scares are remarkably powerful and well-timed. Static is present which is expected from this type of horror sub-genre. Screens will pause and freeze, and when everything goes silent, something crashes and throws the peace into chaos. One scene that scared me and the entire cinema involved a bloody blender, keep your eyes peeled for that part. I absolutely loved the ending, it’s a typical cliffhanger-type found footage twist that left me jaw dropped and smiling at Blaire’s demise. Shelley Hennig is brilliant is Blair Lily, the main cog in this nightmarish online situation, she carries an innocent side as well as a deviant and manipulative side all in one solid performance. Will Peltz, who liked my Instagram post the day I saw this film which was cool, was enjoyable to watch as Adam, a loud and arrogant teen who seems tough on the outside but when the lies start spilling out he becomes vulnerable and erratic and out of control. All in all strong performances that stray away gladly from the sweary, screamy types seen in a lot of POV type horrors.
I highly recommend Unfriended, it shows there is still plenty of life in the sub-genre, and thanks to a great young cast, inventive deaths and unbearable tension, it is worth repeat viewings and is ideal for movie nights and generally something different to check out. A sequel is on the cards, let's hope it does something unique to keep things fresh and watchable.