Spooky Skype: “Unfriended” (2015) Review

unfriended-2

The film starts out with video footage of teenager Laura Barnes (Heather Sossaman) committing suicide. Following this, it shows a YouTube video of Laura hard core drunk at a party and an unknown person is filming it. Cut to a Skype session between Blair (Shelley Hennig) and her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm). Some flirtation occurs before their friends Jess (Renee Olstead), Adam (Will Peltz), Ken (Jacob Wysocki), and Val (Courtney Halverson) pop into the chat. It starts out innocently, the friends goof around with each other and crack jokes. The fun is suddenly cut when an unknown person logs into the chat with them, as well as sending messages. The friends discover that Laura is the unknown chatter. As the session progresses, the friends find themselves trapped in a deadly game where their secrets are revealed, friendships are tested, and lives are in danger.

When the trailer for the film was released, it definitely caught my attention. It looked like a fun teen horror film. As time progressed, I learned the film was rated R, which heightened my excitement level. But then, reviews rolled in and they were extremely positive. Not that I listen to critic reviews in the first place, but it was still pleasantly surprising to see a horror movie receive good reviews that wasn’t supernatural or indie. However, upon seeing the film, I found myself massively disappointed and furious. The concept I admit was very engaging, bringing terror into the cyber world is relatively new for the horror/found footage genre. Despite this, it essentially did NOTHING with the story, or at least nothing worthwhile. To start of with, the terror is very weak. Not once did I feel remotely close to scared or creeped out. Any jump scares there were, were not effective at all, with what little jump scares they had. The whole time during the terror it is nothing but the friends crying, shouting, or yelling at each other or their unknown assailant. None of the situations the characters were in besides the kills weren’t scary.

This leads to the characters themselves. Not ONE of these characters were likable. You literally wanted ALL of them die. They were annoying, stupid, and horrible people. During the “terror” scenes, the reactions of the characters were unbearable that you just wanted someone to die so they’d shut up. Along with this, is the horrible acting by the characters. You can tell the actors were trying way to hard to be scared and vulnerable. If the characters or at least some of them had been remotely likable, it might have been more tolerable and more chilling. The film also features many moments where it tried to be funny, but it absolutely ruined the flow of the film, the characters’ stupidity added to this. However, I will give it credit to say that there were moments during the game of “Never Have I Ever” that were engaging, but failed to completely capture because they could have amped it up. Another plus I will give it are the great kills. We only get just some glimpses of them, but it’s effecting enough. On another note, I fail to see how this movie garnered an R rating, the kills, while bloody, could easily have been PG-13, and the use of the f-bomb I barely even noticed.

Overall, Unfriended is one movie to completely avoid. But if you must see it for some reason, wait until Redbox. The film is horribly written in every respect, and terribly acted. While it had great kills, it’s not enough to make up for this mess of a film. Check out the movie The Den for a similar story, but MUCH better as a horror film.

–Cody Landman

1

Mini review:

Unfriended is the perfect horror film when it comes to accurately depicting the apathy of the social media obsessed youth culture. While I was not a fan of the last 5 seconds, I was tense during this entire film. I loved seeing these characters turn on each other. This was the first horror film that I’ve seen to really dig into the subject of bullying (something that 2013’s Carrie remake merely hinted at) and the effects of the social media crowd’s peer pressure survival instincts. I found the specifics of the internet (such as typing and then deleting to rephrase your thoughts better) and social media were done perfectly. This will NOT be a film for everyone and I can totally see someone hating it. Nonetheless, it worked well for me and I can’t wait to see it again.

— Kevin Sommerfield

3.5