Director: Leo Gabriadze
Cast: Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson
Plot: Six friends communicating on Skype are stalked and then killed off one by one by a mysterious person who is using the identity of their dead friend.
Review: When I saw the trailer to Unfriended a few months ago, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, it was an innovative way of making a horror film by having it take place on a computer screen, but on the flipside, can it hold the audience's interest for the entire duration of the film?
Thankfully, director Leo Gabriadze, writer Nelson Greaves and the cast successfully pull it off. For about ninety minutes or so, we watch in suspense as these six kids get stalked and horribly killed off by a seventh online friend they can't shake, hang up on or get rid of. All over a damning video posted online that caused their friend to kill herself a year ago. This is basically watching cyberbullies getting their comeuppance.
First, a little details. We begin with Blaire, who is in the middle of a conversation online with her boyfriend Mitch, when they are joined by mutual friends Adam (the jock), Jess (the girly best friend), Ken (the tech whiz) and Val (the bitchy one). Then a seventh person with no profile picture enters their conversation. Upon checking they discover that this person is using the account of their dead friend Laura Barns, who killed herself a year ago after a humiliating video of her was posted online. Then weird things start to happen and one by one the kids get killed off, with the stalker forcing the kids not to leave the chat or someone else dies.
I have to hand it to the filmmakers and the cast for pulling off this feat of making the whole film on a computer screen. It looks, sounds and feels genuine with camera feeds occasionally buffering or breaking up, sound effects of messages and notifications coming in being used...the filmmakers use all the tools available at their disposal like Skype, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Chatroulette and even printers. (I didn't even know there was such a thing as Chatroulette till I saw this film) Word has it that they filmed the whole thing in one take, so that's impressive.
The film is shown from Blaire's POV the whole time, so it is her character that we identify with most, not only by what she says to the others, but also her surfing habits, as well as the secrets she keeps, judging by how she sometimes backspaces her comments before posting them. As it turns out, all of them have secrets, which the stalker uses against them before turning violently on them. This piles on the suspense and keeps things tense for most of the film. When they meet their demise, you'll feel the tension, or maybe you'll just laugh if you're the kind of person that doesn't scare easy.
However, like most horror flicks that involve young kids, the cast is made up of people that are worth getting killed off. While the actors make their characters very believable, at the end of the day, they're all hiding something and probably deserve what's coming to them. That would probably explain why some people in the theatre I was watching this with were either sniggering or decided to get up and leave. There's also a lack of explanation on how the stalker is capable of doing all this, but in the horror genre, logic isn't always necessary.
All in all, Unfriended has innovation and a certain level of originality on its side, and thanks to that, it manages to entertain and scare quite well. It's definitely worth a watch, even if you're not into horror flicks. (7/10)