It would be easy to write off "Unfriended" as a modernized rip-off of a number of earlier horror films, because that very much is the case. In spite of this, the film’s familiar story meshes so well with its central gimmick that it’s engaging, entertaining, and impossible to take your eyes off of.
The premise can easily be summed up in a sentence — a year after a teenage girl commits suicide, her ghost cyber stalks a group of high school friends that may have had something to do with her death.
The entire movie unfolds in real time and takes place on one character’s computer screen over Skype.
The movie never attempts to reach beyond its gimmick, and because of that, it succeeds. It’s a brilliant example of how truly great, unique form can trump a relatively lame story. The filmmakers mine the format for all its worth and cleverly use it as a vehicle for revealing information. Some of the exposition is definitely cheap, for instance a random forum post dictates the rules of the haunting, but nitpicking aside, the commitment to one-screen is impeccably handled.
Take the opening scene, for example. We open on a computer screen with a YouTube video of Laura Barns’ suicide playing. Whoever’s watching this video then clicks on a related link that may show why Laura killed herself, but this is interrupted by a Skype call, and now we are introduced to all the characters and waste zero time before the mysterious “ghost” appears and begins to terrorize them.
We all know this story is nothing new — it’s literally just"I Know What You Did Last Summer" confined to a computer screen. Even this digitized angle isn’t completely original — "Modern Family" did the exact same thing for an entire episode this season and there’s a not-so-great indie horror flick starring Elijah Wood that does, too. "Unfriended" stands out because it absolutely nails the internet culture that its steeped in.
People that consider themselves "internet obsessed" will get the most out of "Unfriended." It’s the minor details that really make it that much more engaging — the sheer panic Blaire feels when Mitch doesn’t instantly reply to her, or the fact that she will type one thing, delete it, and say something entirely different. For those that grew up “connected,” or even those that became heavily committed later in life, these subtle moments add a whole other level of relatability that renders the film incredibly effective.
"Unfriended" is definitely not for everyone — if you don’t automatically look at the top right of the screen every time a notification noise goes off, it’s probably not for you.
If you can't stop texting, tweeting, and posting to even watch this movie, chances are you'll really enjoy it provided you can disconnect.
Watch the trailer below.
"Unfriended" is now playing nationwide.