So I finally managed to watch this ‘much talked about’ offering from my sickbed over the weekend. Unfortunately, I could not face sitting in front of the laptop to write this review until today ( yeah, I’m still one of the infected! ).
Unfriended is a Found Footage effort that bases itself around the negative effects of cyber bullying. There was a huge amount of hype surrounding it before it’s release which is pretty strange for the Found Footage genre.
I was looking forward to watching it but I still wasn’t expecting much – I’ve been burnt before by lame ass Paranormal Activity sequels and I had the feeling this would be another disappointment.
So, did it live up to the hype…
That’s as basic as I could be with the answer really – this was an excellent Found Footage offering that managed to tick just about every box available.
I was a little worried we would slip too far down the Collingswood Story route – a decent film but for long periods I felt it needed to step away from the webcam.
Unfriended managed to sidestep this feeling completely and even got to the point where you near enough ignore the Skype/webcam aspect.
It didn’t dwell, it didn’t lag and managed to keep me thoroughly engrossed from start to finish.
The story opens up with us watching a teenage girl named Blaire ( Shelley Hennig ) clicking her way around her PC screen ( actually I think it was a Mac – but you get the idea! ).
Her initial surfing seems to be centered around a school friend who committed suicide after humiliating drunken footage goes viral at her school.
After a short introduction to this tragedy we are then joined by Blaire’s friends in a Skype chat situation – Jess ( Renee Olstead ), Adam ( Will Peltz ), Val ( Courtney Halverson ), and Ken ( Jacob Wysocki ).
As we slowly get to know the characters on screen we also notice a vacant avatar box in the corner of their chat screen. It’s passed over as a glitch to begin with but before long our teenage gang start to take a bit more notice of it’s spooky silence.
It doesn’t stay silent for long…
The directors of this film have made a big effort to highlight a teenage society that is overly-connected by social media. At the same time they have managed to weave in a pretty basic horror revenge story that works on just about every level.
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of teenage movies and I don’t particularly like sitting down and listening to their Skype conversations.
But this film managed to cross the divide between teenage horror fans and the more ‘matured’ horror fans.
Sure the characters were pretty irritating and I’d happily smack a few of them around the face but they have to be this way. Their unlikable teenage flaws are soon pushed out of the way by the vicious game of self-preservation they are made to endure.
Very nicely done – this could of turned out to be 70 odd minutes of complete teenage gash instead of a satisfyingly creepy cyber horror.
I liked the way the scare scenes were pretty original in their delivery – it seemed as if the makers had gone through a trial and error process on what would freak you out and what wouldn’t.
A lot of big budget Found Footage efforts jump on the CGI bandwagon these days but they opted to avoid this with Unfriended. The effects were practical and therefore took a lot more effort and natural timing.
In one scene the group are simply talking to one of their female members that won’t break eye contact with the screen. She simply sits their staring blankly leaving them to try and figure out if her connection has lagged.
This doesn’t sound like much through my explanation here but believe me – it was an excellent lingering shot that really manages to creep the viewer out.
I think the keyword to this film is ‘effort’ – they made an effort to make every aspect of it work and flow naturally as an experience.
I felt totally immersed in Blaire’s computer screen and at times I even forgot it was actually a webcam film!
There will probably be a few unsatisfied reviews out there but I urge you to ignore them. If you like Found Footage you will like this – period!
Well worth watching.