The definition of a sleeper hit: a movie with little marketing push that still manages to make a tidy profit. Unfriended definitely fits the mould having cost just one million dollars to make, it has gone on to gross just under sixty million worldwide. Horror is perhaps the trickiest genre to make into something original, so whilst it may have succeeded commercially, just how does Unfriended fare critically?
The movie takes place over a group Skype chat between a bunch of high school friends on the anniversary of the suicide of their school friend Laura. Things start to get weird when the group notice a blank profile in the chat, iMessages start to follow as do Facebook messages before the group finally realize that something supernatural has a game of revenge in mind.
What the movie does well is build up cinematic intensity through the lense of something we are all very familiar with: the webcam. I found myself at various points of the movie trying to click the minimize button or move a pop up, it is easy to forget that you are actually watching a movie which further demonstration of how technology and social media is engraved into our subconscious. I found the visual style fun and engaging but others are likely to find it plain gimmicky.
Whilst the story is admittedly lightweight, its actors all give a credible account of themselves especially Courtney Halverson and Jacob Wysocki. In what is a story of teen angst and ugliness, the friends will eventually play a game that will reveal how deceitful they have been to each other, whether it be grassing a buddy out to the cops or spreading a malicious rumour around school.
Cyber bullying has been a topic widely debated and it seems that director Levan Gabriadze himself is trying to send out a warning about the perils of social media. But the film refuses to take itself too seriously with the various demises ranging from a gruesome to downright comedic.
Horror movies of late have been unoriginal and poorly executed so Unfriended comes as a breath of fresh air.
Sure, it’s not perfect, the dialogue can sometimes be unbelievably clunky, there are holes in the storyline and sometimes a lack of attention to detail will have you thinking ‘wtf?’ – like how has Blaire (Shelley Hennig) gone months without using Facebook messenger and why does she only have a handful of friends on the site.
It may not be particularly scary but it is a gripping ride. With this, Unfriended just so happens to be the best horror movie I’ve seen since The Babadook.
Unfriended is available on DVD in the UK from September 7th