Unfriended (Universal Pictures, R)

unfriended 75What makes this whole digital-killer concept convincing (and scary) is the fact that today’s technology really is unpredictable.

 

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As sad as it makes me to say this, I have to anyway—Unfriended is alarmingly on point. Before technology, bullying started and ended at school. Now, it just never stops. Directed by Levan Gabriadze, this very low budget horror flick will give you the creeps, and probably make you abstain from social media at least for a couple of days.

The whole story takes place on a simple Macbook screen via programs, applications, and websites we all use daily—mainly through Skype, but also using iMessage, Google Chrome, Spotify, Instagram, LiveLeak, YouTube, Facebook, Gmail, Google, various chat rooms, forums, and so on and so fourth. It all starts with an uninvited anonymous-looking account named ‘Billie227’ joining a conference call on Skype between six teenage friends, on the one-year anniversary of their classmate’s suicide.

Billie227 soon enough reveals that he / she / it knows everything, and claims to be Laura Barns, the dead girl. Having complete control over all of their technology (as well as lights and doors, of course), Billie227 forces them to play a deadly game of Never Have I Ever. Revealing all of their juicy secrets, the account claiming to be Laura Barns turns them all against each other, leaving her former, betraying best friend Blaire, played by Shelley Hennig (Ouija, Teen Wolf) for last.

What makes this whole digital-killer concept convincing (and scary) is the fact that today’s technology really is unpredictable. Huge companies are getting hacked, information is getting leaked—how can you ever be sure that what you wrote in that little Facebook chat window will really stay between two people (or screens)? Once something is posted online, there is no getting it back, there are no second chances, it will come back and haunt you sooner or later, and there is nothing at all you can do about it. You are left feeling bare and hopeless, just like the kids in this film.

Unfriended seems realistic also because of the constantly occurring computer glitches, which most of us experience every single day that we use a computer. For example, the infamous colorful Apple ‘Spinning Wheel of Death’ popping up when a program freezes, or slow internet connections and pixelated video chats with bad quality audio—these are all things that the common Skype user knows all too well, and they are equally maddening as being disconnected exactly the moment you need it most.

In case you get bored looking at the same computer screen all movie long, there are always more things to explore. Endless tabs open in the browser, a messy desktop, older Facebook messages or emails… you name it. The creators of this film luckily paid very close attention to detail—they hit the teenage-girl’s-chaotic-computer look spot-on!

As much as I enjoyed this innovative way of story telling, I’m glad it only runs for 82 minutes. It’s hard to say what is more frustrating; the bad internet connection causing glitches on screen, or the horrifying realization of how easy cyber-bullying really is… | Lea Vrábelová

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