DESPITE THE DOWNFALLS, THE FILM’S UNIQUE STYLE SHINES BRIGHT ENOUGH TO WARRANT A WATCH.
The story of Unfriended is simple. A year after high school student Laura Barnes committed suicide, a group of friends chat with each other on Skype. As they talk, an unidentified party joins the chat and threatens to kill the group unless someone unveils who uploaded the video that ultimately led to Laura’s death. As the situation intensifies and the group dynamic changes, they try to fulfill the request, which reveals the possibility that the unknown person is the ghost of Laura Barnes. Overall, the story is nothing new, but the pacing is perfect and reveals enough secrets to keep the viewer wanting more until the end.
The biggest selling point for this film is the point of view. The entire film takes place on a laptop screen and follows the main character’s habits, such as Skype chats and Spotify playlists. The film never breaks from the screen, completely immersing the audience into the protagonist’s plight to solve the mysteries surrounding the unknown threat. This point of view helps show the character’s thoughts and personality without needing any help from dialogue. This example of “show, don’t tell” advances the film in the best way possible.The primary downfall is that, despite its unique viewpoint, the film doesn’t tread new ground in any other department. Like I said before, the story is cliché and includes characters that aren’t very compelling. Each character fits into a horror film stereotype, making any personal connections useless considering the limited, on-screen life spans. I understand that many do not go to horror films to feel attached to expendable characters, but after seeing It Follows, the benefits of adding more than just likeability to your characters become harder to ignore. Thankfully, Unfriended handles these clichés well enough to make it more enjoyable than films like Ouija or the most recent Paranormal Activity.
In the end, Unfriended is an entertaining popcorn film. Despite the downfalls, the film’s unique style shines bright enough to warrant the film a watch. It’s the perfect last-minute Netflix pick on a Friday night. If you’re interested in seeing it in theaters, I’d say give it a shot. While the film doesn’t hold a candle to It Follows, it’s definitely a nice change of pace to see a mainstream horror film with a good amount of effort put into it.