It’s become a burden now for any film which uses the line ‘From the producers of Paranormal Activity et al…..’
Luckily Unfriended is one of their better efforts, dealing head on with this generations obsession with social media and giving it a deadly twist or three.
We open to find a girl called Laura Barns had committed suicide after an explicit video of her was posted on a version of YouTube for all the world to see.
From here we meet Blair and her five friends who chat online using Skype, Messenger and Facebook to chat openly and privately between themselves.
The mysterious ‘billie227’ then enters the fray posting to individuals and the group with cryptic messages posing as the deceased Laura Barns.
Is she alive after all, or is it some kind of imposter ready to play some games?
As a social commentary Unfriended is very relevant with cyberbullying and some of its extreme cases always making big headlines sadly over the last few years.
It also begs the question of how well we know our friends and even lovers?
Blair as we find out during the opening scenes is looking to lose her virginity to boyfriend Mitch (also part of the online group) at their Prom which is coming up, but from coming across as starcrossed lovers we find that everything isn’t what it seems.
This could be a metaphor for Unfriended in general, this false sense of security we feel when accessing and sharing our thoughts and actions with the world on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Remember that photo on your phone that you don’t want anyone to see? What if it got posted on your Facebook wall, how would you react?
This is the sort of scenario the group finds themselves in as ‘Billie227’ twists the knife metaphorically on them using the game ‘Never Have I Ever’ to effectively rip their friendships apart at the seams.
Despite having six characters and the now deceased Laura Barns to focus on, we are given enough snippets into most of the characters to know whether we will route for them or not barring one but they aren’t that invested in the bigger picture.
Just when the formula of the constant web cams is getting a bit tiresome Unfriended shifts it up a gear in gruesome fashion as one of the group meets a bloody end. From here the film kicks on as really ramps up the tension focussing on the individuals and their parts in the bigger picture.
It’s an age old story of the sins committed previously coming back to haunt them, but done in a more modern way. Having said this, don’t expect Unfriended to age well as any film that incorporates a specific piece of technology will live and die by it; lest we forget Halloween Resurrection’s use of webcams way back in 2002.
Thankfully Unfriended is a much slicker and smarter film than Resurrection, although don’t expect any spinoffs anytime soon like Paranormal Activity, this is very much a stand alone effort.
Unfriended has its flaws, but you have to admire the idea which is quite refreshing and executed very well.