Essentially Unfriended is a logical progression of the found footage horror template, this time having the action unfold between several teenage protagonists on a Skype call. Although there is nothing particularly original about the plot, on a visual level this is an intriguing curiosity and something of a technical marvel.
The afore-mentioned teenagers end up with a mystery party on their Skype call that they can’t get rid of. This individual appears to be the ghost of a girl they inadvertently drove to suicide through cyberbullying. Said ghost then holds everyone on the Skype call hostage and subsequently secrets are revealed with increasingly deadly consequences.
Director Levan Gabriadze and writer Nelson Greaves, not to mention editors Parker Laramie and Andrew Wesman, deserve considerable credit for juggling all the different multiple Skype box elements, making them work together cohesively. Not only that but other commonplace computer activities – listening to music, muting the call to search the internet, private messaging and so forth – are all depicted simultaneously. This leads to intriguing insights as a character types one thing, then deletes it and says something else. Incidentally, the performances from a largely unknown cast are all pretty decent.
The horror element is not particularly scary, although it is gruesome in places (with lots of swearing and some sexual content, whilst we’re on the subject of potentially offensive content). However, from a satirical perspective Unfriended shines a light on technology and how people live their lives through it in unhealthy ways. It also mercilessly depicts cyberbullying, and how a person’s life can be ruined by their foolish mistakes being plastered all over the internet.
All throughout Unfriended, the phrase that will go through the audience’s mind will be “Just turn it off!” but these people never do. Their curiosity is insatiable. They just have to know what’s in that file, that hidden message, that online video, and so on.
In final analysis, the characters depicted herein and their actions are reprehensible. Furthermore, plot wise this has nothing new to offer. But as a piece of cinema, this is actually deserves considerable points for generating claustrophobia in the way Facebook messages, Skype icons and buffering wheels are menacingly depicted throughout. Ultimately Unfriended gets by on sheer inventiveness.