UNFRIENDED | REVIEW

I love me some horror, that emotion of getting scared shitless and “the jump” – that moment something makes your heart and your self physically jump with a fight or flight reaction to a screen is amazing!! The trailer for UNFRIENDED looks amazing but booooooo me, I was away for work interstate. Kernel Emma also loves the horror and hit this review screening up. It is actually out now, releasing last Thursday, and is playing at most commercial cinemas, it is highly likely I will be in one of these cinemas on the weekend #horrorrules! UNFRIENDED is released by Universal Pictures Australia, is rated MA15+ and runs for 83mins. Enjoy Emma’s review…..all the best…..JK.

 

unfriended movie poster image
UNFRIENDED | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

UNFRIENDED uses classic horror genre conventions and brings them into one single Skype chat, resulting in a relentlessly scary experience. Touching on broader themes of cyber bullying and using a drinking game as a metaphor for revealing the truth, the film is certainly innovative and its execution draws few similarities to its predecessors. Think MEGAN IS MISSING, meets MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN, meets the cyber conversations you likely shared in your teens. UNFRIENDED is equal jump scares and suspense, it keeps you guessing until the final climatic scene and is funny for its successful use of irony. The film is very specific in its target niche audience and its social-media web crazed focus won’t take long to outdate. If you can forgive the annoying squealing by the lead female characters and some unnecessary dialogue the film is actually very good and is one of the most well executed horror films I have seen in a long time.

 

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UNFRIENDED | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE IMAGE | FRIENDS SKYPING

 

UNFRIENDED is told in the form of one single shot, where the action is dictated by clicks of the mouse, Facebook notifications and a never-ending Skype session. Six teenage friends partake in their usual evening call, but this time there is an anonymous seventh member who is initially assumed to be a troll. As tension builds the teens realise it is the one year anniversary of their classmate’s suicide, which was the result of an embarrassing video posted anonymously online. It fast becomes apparent that one of the members inside the group chat posted the video and that no one will be leaving alive. We soon learn the cyber supernatural force of Laura Barnes is not only capable of psychical torture, as one by one the friends turn on each other in a dramatically revealing mind game. Without giving too much away, keep an eye out for the hair straighteners.

 

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UNFRIENDED | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE IMAGE | FRIENDS SKYPING

 

To successfully execute a film of this nature, on a notably small budget, we expect a lot from the acting and the editor’s ability to maintain tension through a single camera experience.  Starting with the positives, the execution is fantastic and the film contains the perfect balance of tension building and unexpected frights. The combination of jump scares in the potential culprits houses and creepy messages online, create the perfect parallel of the two worlds. Ultimately this sense of technical familiarity becomes the most dynamic element of the film and the one which of course narrows the films appeal to those teen tech savvy audiences. The minimal and yet shocking use of gore, further gives the film added appeal, separating it from the camera shy PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films. While the technical execution has few flaws, the central characters are superficial, narcissists whose impending death is more enjoyable to watch than it should be. While this is likely intentional, it ultimately detracts from the clever film techniques and makes some of the scenes a lot more hilarious then scary.

 

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UNFRIENDED | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE IMAGE | SKYPING GETS EVIL

 

In typical slasher form, it is those most annoying who are killed off first – a technique that will never date.  People are damn brutal in the social media world and the teens are equally worried about their diminishing reputations as they are about their lives.  UNFRIENDED fills a significant gap in the market for good, innovative horror films and it pleases me greatly that we are finally stepping away from the found footage, franchises of the past ten or so years. The film directly addresses a familiar audience and plays on our everyday online experience, which is what makes it so damn frightening. The innovation stars from the very first frame, as a distorted – hacked Universal logo fades onto the screen.

I would recommend this film to all of my horror loving counterparts, for its ability to exploit the genre conventions in a particularly bold, relevant fashion. UNFRIENDED plays on its audience’s pre-existing social media anxieties, combining this with a well-executed supernatural twist. Despite its notably cheap and relatively simple production, audiences are stimulated for every minute of the film, there are no dull moments. I look forward to seeing this one again; it will no doubt be just as freaky the second time round!

 

3 and a Half Pops