Devin King | Staff Reporter
Published April 17, 2015; 11:40 a.m.
The horror movie genre has finally received a much-needed wave of smart, compelling films. With last year’s “The Babadook,” last month’s “It Follows” and now “Unfriended,” opening today, horror has gained back some much deserved respect in terms of quality.
“Unfriended” isn’t necessarily an intellectual commentary like the last films mentioned, but it brings a truly unique and well executed narrative that, to my knowledge, has never been done before.
“Unfriended” tells the story told entirely from the laptop screen of Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig) as she chats with her friends via Skype. It is revealed that a year ago, one of their friends Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) killed herself after an embarrassing video of her was posted online. Barns’ online profiles start to interfere with Blaire and her friends and strange things start happening to them at their individual locations.
Blaire and her friends appear to be self-absorbed, annoying teenagers, and that is exactly what they are. There seems to be some subtle messages about the current young generation and modern technology, but the movie’s main objective is telling a convincing story about modern teenagers through the unconventional platform of a computer screen.
The logic behind the movie is well thought out, even if it is not entirely perfect. It becomes clear through the story that Blaire and her friends cannot call help, exit Skype, or even run away or they will die. The movie itself has no cinematography at all, but the film cleverly takes advantage of its setting and great cast to create a realistic, even familiar, premise. The film is incredibly suspenseful and uses the dreaded buffering symbol to create some heart racing scenes in ways which I will not spoil.
The sound design is also done well. While Blaire and her friends sound a little too good for using basic computer microphones, Blaire’s iTunes library is successfully used to set the mood. This is very resourceful since there are not any non-diegetic sounds.
Sadly, the horror aspect of “Unfriended” is, without a doubt, the weakest part of the movie. The build-up to the scares is great. However, the overall payoff is quite lacking. The movie does not seem to have a large budget, which is fine, but results in cheesy and unsatisfying on-screen deaths.
Despite what the trailer may have led you to believe, “Unfriended” is a unique and interesting twist on a very familiar story. There is nothing really substantial for those that dislike horror, but for anyone that considers themselves as a fan of the genre, it is a high recommendation.