Written by Lewis Mainwaring & Benjamin Gummery.
Unfriended (originally released in 2014 as Cyber-natural at the Fantasia Festival) is a ‘found footage’ supernatural horror film directed by Levan Gabriadze, written by Nelson Greaves, and produced by Timur Bekmambetov, Jason Blum, and Greaves. The film is a joint venture between Universal & Blumhouse Productions; although shot independently.
A updated variation on the found footage genre, the film is set in real-time and almost entirely viewed on a character’s computer screen. Finally getting its theatrical release this film sees a group of friends having an online video-chat session (via Skype) which then becomes targeted by an anonymous hacker.
The Facebook page and other social networks of a schoolmate who took their own life a year ago to the day seems to have been hacked posting messages that gradually implicate each of the group in a series of interpersonal deceptions and guilty online revelations. As the anonymous hacker demands that they “play a game” (throwback to Saw’s maniacal Jigsaw), the film starts to take a darker turn.
This film plot revolves around the one year anniversary of Laura Barns suicide. This plot aspect is a throwback to other horror movies which focus on the anniversary of a crime/terrible event – such as Halloween, Prom Night, Friday the 13th, Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. These films and many others like them see either the killer, the persecuted or a vigilante going on a murder spree avenging a wrong and punishing the unpunished.
This film can be seen as this generations Blair Witch Project but instead of a hand-held camera documenting the ‘ghost’ we have Skype, and the film makers even included buffering, freezing and the ever familiar spinning pinwheel. With a budget of $1 Million the film has already grossed over $27.5 Million.
In keeping with it’s cyber credentials the film’s soundtrack is only songs that are showing playing on the computer and the video used is made to look like web-cams and mobile phones. There is some traditional horror scoring as well though.
The realism of websites used such as Facebook and Skype places this film solidly in the real world and is something that younger generations will relate to however the concept of a film shot almost entirely within the realm of a computer screen is very new and will not be for everybody. It’s also hard to re-create the same type of tension as other horror films; much like a badly shot found footage film; we don’t see enough to truly horrify us. The film uses a very similar gimmick to Panic Button. 2.5/5
This film is a very unique of the found footage genre; however due to the computer screen aspect of the film I personally couldn’t connect with the characters. I feel that this due lack of character development in the script not the performance. I would still recommend people to see it and I do believe that this film will eventually become a cult favourite like the Blair Witch project. 3/5
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