I’m sure you read my review for the original Unfriended right? It rather surprised me and got me excited to check out the sequel, Unfriended: Dark Web. After taking a laptop that had been sitting in lost & found for a few weeks, Mathias O’Brien (Colin Woodell) uses it for a Skype game night with his old friends from college. Mathias discovers some hidden videos on the laptop, all of which reveal girls in various horrific situations. When the owner of the laptop gets in contact with him, Mathias realizes he and his friends are in extreme danger. The people behind the videos are a far-reaching organization that will do anything to get the laptop back. The company wants to silence anyone who knows what’s hidden inside.
I will be getting into spoilers for Unfriended: Dark Web. So, for those of you who liked the first Unfriended, you’ll probably think this one is just okay at best. It’s not terrible and is actually fun at times, but it’s nothing special and you don’t need to waste any money on it. If your MoviePass™ actually works, by all means, go see it if it’s in a theater near you. Otherwise, wait for Netflix to watch this one.
I find the concept behind Unfriended: Dark Web much scarier than in the original. They don’t perfectly nail the execution, but I find the idea of organizations of people making these messed up videos highly disturbing. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of these videos and leave what we do to our imagination, which is both disappointing and terrifying. The videos themselves are very disturbing, effective, and the highlights of the movie. Even some of the stuff we don’t see is highly disturbing. This especially includes the scenes involving trephination. The characters look up the meaning and we later get a glimpse at the after-effects. That image will stick with me as the most memorable part of the film.
Though not as memorable as the last film, the acting in this movie is still solid. I believe all of the characters and most are more likable than the high-schoolers from the original. These guys are all old college friends and I believe it. Damon (Andrew Lees), Nari (Betty Gabriel), and Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse) are all likable and people you actually want to survive the film. What I find interesting is that in the first film, I was rooting for all of the characters to die and that wasn’t the case here. I only wanted one or two of them to die this time.
Actually rooting for a few of the characters did help ramp up the tension, which was palpable in Unfriended: Dark Web. They do a solid job digging into your paranoia and make you feel like the bad guys could be anywhere at any time. There is a great sense of danger and fear in this film, keeping me engaged.
Finally, I need to mention one death scene that knocked it out of the park. AJ (Connor Del Rio) is the group’s conspiracy theorist who lives off the grid. But the villains are able to get to him anyway by faking some terrorist threats from him and sending them to the police. This leads to AJ’s death as the police raid his house. It’s pretty obvious what is going to happen to him, but the film draws it out. It’s disturbing but mildly funny and by far the most memorable death scene.
Our main character, Mathias, isn’t great. We kinda feel bad for him for most of the movie, but I just couldn’t believe he tried to convince his friends this was all just a game he designed. And even more unbelievable, most of them bought it. My suspension of disbelief can only go so far, and besides the skeptical Nari, none of the character’s reactions to this felt genuine.
Mathias’ girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), is pretty awful. Typically, if we have a deaf character in a movie we should feel some sympathy for them, but Amaya’s introduction makes her intensely unlikable. We see Mathias designing a computer program to make it easier for them to communicate through Skype. Though it seems like a really sweet gesture, she is so dismissive of it and shows no interest. They explain this later, but it’s such a bizarre way to introduce a character we are supposed to care about. It easily makes her the least likable character in the movie.
To continue on the deaf subject, Mathias’ program shows the audience the sign language and the English words at the same time. I thought that was a cool way to incorporate a deaf character while still making the audience be able to understand her, but they only use the program twice. There are a bunch of scenes with both Amaya and Mathias signing to each other where people who don’t know sign language wouldn’t be able to understand, including yours truly. It’s frustrating being left out of the conversation like this and it makes for a poor cinematic experience.
Apart from the previously mention AJ, most of the other character’s death scenes were nothing special. Some were off-screen and the rest just weren’t very inventive. Mathias’ was the worst of the bunch as he simply gets hit by a car. Is that really the best we could do? It was super obvious, but unlike AJ’s it wasn’t at all inventive. It’s a poor scene to end your movie on.
Finally, this Dark Web has lots of plot holes. A lot of things feel very convenient and I think some rewrites could have tightened up the movie. I get it, a real-time film like this is going to have some plot convenience, but there’s a little too much for me to swallow.
Unfriended: Dark Web Final Verdict: 6/10: Okay
Unfriended: Dark Web is alright. It’s got some chilling scenes and some horrifying ideas to fill your imagination. It also has solid tension, good acting, and one excellent death scene. But our lead character and the love interest aren’t great, the sign language scenes were frustrating, most of the death scenes were uninspired, and there were simply too many plot holes. If you liked the first Unfriended, go ahead and watch this one when it comes out on Netflix. I’ll give it a tentative recommendation, just don’t spend any money on it. It’s not bad, just nothing special.