Unfriended: Film Review
Posted on May 13, 2015
Some of the greatest horror movies, from The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari to The Night Of The Living Dead, channel contemporary social anxieties. It’s our deep-seated fears about social networking that lie at the heart of Unfriended. When a girl kills herself following an embarrassing video leaked on the internet, six of her friends are stalked by an online menace.
Part of a new trend in visual storytelling, the entire film takes place on a computer screen using Skype, iMessage, Facebook and Google. What’s surprising is just how adaptable this approach is. In 2013, acclaimed short, Noah, explored the end of a romance in much the same way. Still a novel technique (and particularly unusual for a wide, multiplex release), it replicates a uniquely modern ‘reality’. Director Leo Gabriadze elicits fitting, natural performances from his cast and by putting his characters in close up the Skype enhances their spiralling panic.
You might recognise this idea from Channel 4’s film Cyberbully in which Game Of Thrones star Maisie Williams played a similar teenager harassed by an online troll after an internet bullying suicide. Where Channel 4’s film offered audiences a tangible online ‘bully’, Unfriended mingles the notion of an internet troll with a supernatural presence: that of ghostly possession. The result is an exciting, engrossing horror-thriller but one with limited post-credits resonance. Content to bask in his characters’ juvenile secrets and lies, Gabriadze misses an opportunity to probe conventional definitions of bullying. Final moments of screeching hysteria undo some of his good work but Unfriended remains an alternative horror movie well deserving of its multiplex release.
VERDICT: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4/5
Running time: 83 minutes
UK release date: 1 May 2015
Review first published in the Mansfield and Ashfield Chad