Unfriended is a new take on the found-footage style of horror film that literally unfolds over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends engage in a group Skype chat. When their chat is infiltrated by an unknown caller, they try unsuccessfully to boot the unwanted participant out. But the participant soon reveals herself to be Laura Barns, their so-called friend, who killed herself a year prior, following a shaming video being posted online.
While there are many problems with this film, the main one (and one that seems to be an epidemic in horror films) is that we are not provided with enough of a set-up to actually care about any of the characters involved. They are in fact a bunch of entitled, morally bankrupt, spoiled brats who you sort of want to see dead by the end of the film.
There are some shocking moments (one in particular is definitely not for the squeamish and you’ll never look at your blender the same way again) but they cannot make up for our lack of interest in or concern for these bullies who do not consider the consequences of their actions until it’s too late and even then, refuse to admit fault.
To the film’s credit, the audience is engaged for the 83-minute runtime, which is a hard task considering they are looking at a computer screen for the entirety of the film. It also heavily borrows from other horror films and while it is often funny, the humour is misplaced.
The acting is good with Shelley Hennig as the standout in the role of Blair, Laura’s best friend. The rest of the cast are largely unknown actors and this film will sadly do little to raise their profiles.
On a more serious note, cyber-bullying remains a major cause of suicide for young teens today. Social media is a powerful tool in both promoting and denigrating reputations and kids are more under the microscope than ever. While social media is a great way to connect, it does have the obvious power to destroy people. It’s an interesting issue and there was opportunity here for something deeper.
While the moral of the story packages itself as an anti-bullying campaign, it is a largely powerless message here. Kids shouldn’t avoid bullying because the spirit of their dead victim might come back to haunt them, they should avoid bullying because it is a sh***y thing to do.
The concept of Unfriended isn’t horrifying, however, the way these kids treat each other is, and this behaviour is probably the most interesting thing about the film, along with the characters’ inability to take responsibility for their actions. #sorrynotsorry
[youtube id=”IcFHg4rTDuQ” width=”620″ height=”360″]