Sometimes horror films come along that sound so stupid you owe it to yourself to watch the trailer just to see how ridiculous they really are. The films are shortly thereafter filed under “films I am going to forget to watch” but there are rare occasions when something catches my interest. Unfriended was one of those films.
As intriguing as the trailer was I kept my expectations well in check and saw it as an easy way to kill an afternoon in the cinema.
PLOT: After an embarrassing video appears on YouTube and she is mercilessly mocked online teenager Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) commits suicide. One year after Laura’s death a group of her classmates are chatting online when they are terrorised by a hacker posing as their deceased friend. END PLOT
The idea that a teenager would commit suicide after being mocked online is sadly not at all farfetched. The teens that are directly/indirectly responsible for Laura’s suicide don’t show any hint of remorse and this is the scariest aspect of the film although it doesn't form part of the plot at all. The main storyline is the terrorisation of the teens.
If you can get past the notion that six people can have a seamless connection to Skype at any one time then you should be able to buy into a horror film that expects the viewer to watch what is essentially a lengthy video call. As ridiculous as the premise seems Unfriended is really well shot and plays out in real time. There are no jumpy moments and it isn’t particularly scary but Unfriended manages to hold the tension well and relies on strong performances to achieve this. The short running time of just over 80mins also helps.
The actors were all unfamiliar and they play obnoxious teens almost too well for comfort. There is no weak link in the cast and although the characters are fairly unlikeable their actions and how they speak to one another felt real. The everyman feel keeps events grounded even when they start to spiral towards the supernatural.
My gut feeling was that Unfriended would be nothing more than an extended advertisement for Facebook, Skype, YouTube and Spotify but it turned out to be a surprisingly watchable film. As a fun trip to the cinema Unfriended gets 7/10 but I suspect that it will quickly be forgotten. The film does deserve to be watched at least once and is a decent twist on the found footage genre.