Overall Grade: (D)
It delivers a heavy message by telling itself using two things its target demographic loves, social media and horror movies.
A group of teenagers chatting online are pulled into a deadly game by the account of their friend who committed suicide a year prior, exposing all their secrets and holding them accountable for their actions.
Some could class this film as a gimmick, others could say it used current day trends to tell a story to an age bracket that often doesn’t pay attention to things they do not deem interesting. “Unfriended” was not the most creative story-line but where it lacked ambition in this area, it made up for it with a clever way visually showcasing itself. To think of an entire film being placed on a laptop screen would be most often thought of as ridiculous but surprisingly it played out well.
Advances in technology, easy access to information and the good and bad things that come from the ease of finding personal information in today’s world are examined in this film. Surprisingly the result was a good amount of suspense and tension built throughout. You can connect to the young cast who all brought in solid performances, they all look and feel the part of a group of high-school kids, complete with their range in personalities and their hot and cold feelings among their peers.
On the downside, the filmmakers created a highly implausible script to showcase a real-life issue in the world today and if you look past the slasher-flick appearance, there was a decent amount of substance given to the topic of bullying in schools, and among teenagers in general. The dynamic of the group of friends felt realistic and amid their bickering, drama, and posturing with one another you can relate to the situations they talk about from our own school days.
There was a good flow to the story and as you watch and see the actions of the main characters laptop, you can see the connection to the youth of today who are more accustomed to technology than the old days of passing notes, real phone calls and actually giving someone your full attention. The multi-tasking of today and programs we all use to communicate were fun to see used in this film, and shown how it could all go wrong.
** Spoilers Below **
That is where this film could have greatly improved from leaving the horror angle behind and opting for a more thriller & mystery approach by having a real individual running the account of the groups dead friend. The genre and vibe this film chose cost the script its full potential for enjoyment. The supernatural approach cost the story its seriousness. There was no explanation to what was making them kill themselves, nor any real description of anything.
It came across as a project that had a great idea, and at the same time no idea on how it wanted to tell itself. The tension this film did build was left unfulfilled. The script was weak and felt like the writers couldn’t come up with an ending so they borrowed from other horror flicks, and for some reason not the good ones. The tension built throughout was only hindered by the unexplained placement of bloody deaths and each time these gore filled scenes came up, only took away the connection the story-line was managing to build.
In the end “Unfriended” was a unique film but unfortunately not a very good one. The younger audience could enjoy it given their familiarity with the online social world but if you come to expect some good writing and execution and not just good ideas, then this film will not do it for you.