Unfriended rather surprised me. On an average school night, Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig), her boyfriend, Mitch Roussel (Moses Jacob Storm), and a group of their friends are on a Skype call when they notice an anonymous person in the chat with them who they can’t get rid of them. The person, billie227, reveals that each of them has dark secrets, most of which involve a student named Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman). Laura committed suicide exactly one year prior to this chat when classmates harassed her about an extremely embarrassing video of her online. Now it seems someone has hacked into Laura’s account to exact revenge. Or could it be Laura herself, back from the dead for vengeance?
I gotta say, I thought this movie looked extremely stupid and initially had no desire to see it. In the years since its release, I’ve heard some positive things about Unfriended, so I finally decided to give it a watch and I was pleasantly surprised. I actually enjoyed this film. Yes, the premise is still ridiculous, but Unfriended really leans into it with pretty solid execution.
The biggest compliment I can give the film is that it feels very real. The way the characters use the Internet, switching back and forth between programs, getting distracted and not getting back to messages, and typing a message before deleting it and sending something else. This is all very familiar territory for me and I found it surprisingly engaging.
I also need to give major props to the cast. The acting is probably the most impressive aspect of the film and helps with the realistic feel. The characters are all obnoxious high-schoolers who do nasty things to one another. All are pretty fake, two-faced and simply terrible people. So, your average high-schooler. While they’re not likable, they are realistic and they aren’t all that irritating. I was still 100% rooting for the killer, but it wasn’t because they were annoying to watch, and that’s pretty much all I need from a slasher movie. These actors really went above and beyond and all their performances truly impressed me.
I also liked the themes of the movie and how it handles cyber-bullying. It may not be subtle in the slightest, but it doesn’t need to be. It has a message and a point and delivers it just about as well as it could have. That’s far more than most slasher movies do, so I give props where they are due.
Again, the premise is fairly stupid and it leads to a few potholes. I’m still not entirely sure why the kids stayed online as long as they did. I guess it could be a commentary on Internet addiction, but all I know is: I would have been long gone well before things got as insane as Unfriended ended up. However, I can mostly ignore this for the sake of the story they try to tell.
I really didn’t care for the Chatroulette sequence. That was one Internet fad I never took part in, so it did nothing for me. It was kind of unintentionally funny, but it was easily the weakest segment of the film.
Finally, I don’t love the ending. I think we could have done something better than a jump-scare for our last shot. 99% of the time I am against having a last-second jump-scare. I find them cheap and my final feeling was predominantly one of annoyance. They could have easily had a much more intelligent, poignant ending that would have been far more satisfying.
Verdict for Unfriended: 7/10: Good
I thought I was going to hate Unfriended and had very low expectations going in, but it was actually a fun movie. The acting and the style gives this movie an extremely realistic tone, which shocked me. Plus, I liked how they handled their themes. There are some plot-holes, one uninteresting sequence, and a weak ending, but I gotta say, for the most part, Unfriended has got it going on.