As a fan of modern horror films, I must conceit that most of them are garbage – but I still watch anyway. Hell, I went out of my way to see Ouija at no financial or social benefit to myself. I only say this because I need you to understand where I’m coming from as a horror fan. I’ve begun to realize that I can never be disappointed or let down by a horror movie – only pleasantly surprised. I’m trying to temper my excitement for the new Poltergeist, since it’s the first mainstream horror film I’ve actively been excited for in a long time. Usually it’s just, “All right, well, let’s get this over with.” This is all a preamble to let you into my history and relationship with the horror genre as I tell you the following information:
Unfriended is the most boring and non-scary nonsense I’ve seen in recent memory. It’s the first horror film that I was actively wishing for the ghost to kill me instead.
Taking place all through the digital lens of a teenage girl’s computer screen, Unfriended tells the story of cyberbullying, revenge, and the consequences of keeping secrets. After an embarrassing video of Laura Barns went viral, and the relentless online teasing that followed, she resorted to suicide (which was also conveniently caught on camera).
Exactly one year later, a seemingly innocuous Skype chat is interrupted by a ghostly intruder, who as the friends find out, is the digital ghost of Laura herself. The teens are then threatened “YOU LOG OFF YOU DIE.” What follows is a drawn out spectacle seen through one girl’s use of modern technology to get to the bottom of the spooky goings-on.
This, for all the garbage I’ve talked on the film, I found really well done from a production standpoint. Realistically creating Skype, YouTube, Spotify, Facebook, etc. was done really well, and quite cleverly at some points. Down to the second-guessing of how to type an important message, it all felt organic.
For a horror film, using the relatively untapped premise of cyberbullying and a creative twist on the “found footage” horror subgenre, there was virtually no suspense and the scares were anything but scary – they were almost comical. I was bored most of the time, save for a few Saw-esque games the ghost requires of the teens and the occasional creative use of Spotify to evoke tone.
Unfriended is a disappointing attempt to do something different, if not interesting. Hopefully the second attempt will be more successful in the inevitable sequel.