It’s been a year since the death of their friend Laura Barns who committed suicide in public after an embarrassing video of her appeared online. Whilst online, five friends learn some hard truths and secrets as a mysterious stranger enters their skype group.
On paper, Unfriended looks like it would be another teen slasher and another horror to be cast aside much like the more recent run of rubbish that’s been put out. But in actual fact Unfriended offers a new take on horror that cuts disturbingly close to home and has updated the found footage genre for the current trend in communication and social networking. Seen only through the screen of one of the friends, we watch as Blaire chats to friends, goes on Facebook and watches Youtube videos, there are no cuts to other cameras, we are the voyeur…only able to see the screen.
This of course means that you have to understand half the apps and programs that she’s using as she flits between all Skype, iMessage, Spotify, Google Chrome and even Chatroulette (penis included) and enjoy reading and watching people type messages. But given five or ten minutes you’ll soon be lulled into this almost perverse experience.
Unfriended takes it’s time to build the world and characters we see Blaire interact with, as there are no external cameras, most of the action takes place through Skype as they all talk to each other, presumably late at night. We learn more about the lives of each of them and the deceased friend, further pulling us in. There’s the ever present danger of the mysterious unknown avatar, silent to begin with, who they cannot block, remove from the chat or unfriend. As the night continues, Billie227 begins to play a sickening game, which I’m sure you can imagine what the price of losing is.
The films centre revolves around the suicide over the video posted online and brings home the message that what gets posted online, stays online and can ultimately lead to harassment, bullying and depression. The web is a place where trolls and bullies can hide behind the anonymous face of empty avatars. While the film deals with this in a brutal way, it serves as a constant reminder of how exposed we leave ourselves when posting anything online these days and many of those anonymous figures are not quite who they appear to be.
This is Blair Witch for the Facebook generation, and if you’ve ever been in a chat room, or use the internet regularly it’ll make you nervous. My only gripe is the fact you’ll be screaming ‘where are the parents here?’ or ‘Just turn off your bloody computer’ but of course in horror films, no one runs, or hides when they should which is all part of the fun. An experience to be seen and an interesting new take on film making and horror.