Let me preface this review by pointing out that I usually enjoy the movies that Jason Blum and his company Blumhouse Productions put out. Sinister, Insidious and Insidious 2, The Conjuring and Annabelle. Those are freaky movies. Which is why I’m saddened to say that this latest venture does not live up to expectations. In fact, Unfriended is more a time waster than a terror coaster.

Unfriended follows Blaire Lily, played by Shelley Hennig of Teen Wolf fame and somehow playing a much blander character than the one she played in Ouija. And for most of that film she’s dead (see my review of that one here)! Anyway, the film is told by watching Blaire’s laptop’s desktop and the multitude of programs she’s got going at once. All of her friends and her boyfriend log in for a Skype call and are joined by a mysterious, faceless person who seems to be stalking them. The person claims to be Laura Barns, a friend of theirs who committed suicide a year previously after an embarrassing video of her was uploaded onto the Internet. Whoever it is, they threaten anyone who signs off, uploads embarrassing information about each person, and then kills them. As the number of friends wind down, we get closer to the heart of the mystery: who filmed and uploaded the video that started it all.

I kind of knew before I even saw the movie that it would be difficult to make an impressive film told entirely from a Mac desktop. If they’d kept the tension and terror going through the whole film, then it might not be a problem. However, there are several minutes where nothing happens, where Blaire is chatting on Facebook or through IMs or looking things up or where Laura is typing to the living. During those parts, the tension doesn’t just mellow out, it disappears. Even during a sequence where Laura is forcing her friends to admit they’ve said or done horrific things, it’s not scary. Tragic or sad, but not scary.

Even sadder is that I don’t get to know these characters enough to build any sympathy for these characters. They’re all pretty much stereotypes or archetypes and not much beyond that. Blaire’s the supposedly sweet and innocent virgin, a horror staple, her boyfriend’s the sweet, lovesick puppy teenager from next door. The others are a bitchy drama queen, an overly-entitled rich kid, a geeky hacker, and a blonde (yeah, she’s just a blonde. Nothing beyond that. As a blonde, I’m kind of insulted). Beyond all that, there’s not a thing to say about these people.

And Laura Barns? Don’t know what to make of her. Some say she was just a sweet girl with some family troubles that are briefly hinted at, others see her as an awful bitch. All we see is the villain manipulating them and their computers. I’d have loved to see a flashback of this girl, rather than just some videos and recollections.

That said, Unfriended does have its points. The film looks like it has been filmed in one continuous shot and any cuts in film (of which I’m sure there are) are so hard to catch it looks seamless. The characters do show how unstable teen relationships can be, how you can be a friend and still call someone a bitch at the same time. And there’s that underlying theme of bullying and cyberbullying throughout. They do that well.

Still, I wouldn’t waste money on Unfriended if I were you. Wait until it’s on DVD. It’s an interesting concept, not something previously done in film, but it might have been better told as a short story than as a movie. I’m giving it a 2.6 out of 5. I’m sad that they’re already considering a sequel to this movie, or maybe even a line of sequels. God, I hope they don’t waste the money making more of these! That cash could go to so many better things.

Well, that’s all for now. I’m–wait. What’s this chat box? I–Oh damn. Ghost on my computer. Gotta go, my Followers of Fear. I think I need an exorcist.

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Comments
  1. I heard that they were trying to work on this new genre called “Cybernatural”, but I just couldn’t imagine it working on the big screen. From what I read here, I was right. Maybe it’ll work better as a VoD, seen as it seems to be directed at the streaming generation of viewers anyway.

  2. Something different entirely: Have you ever watched Eye Candy? I’m asking because Blumhouse Productions made it and I am devastated that they cancelled it … it was a psycho-thriller kind of show with a cyber-serial killer.

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