Review: Unfriended (2015)

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 by

I've been looking forward to MTV's Unfriended (directed by newcomer, Levan Gabriadze, and originally titled Cybernatural - a name I'm glad they dropped) for months. I finally caught it in theaters last month and was so happy I did.

Unfriended opens with Blaire's Macbook desktop, a place we'll all come to be quite familiar with as the film progresses. A Liveleak video documenting Laura Barns' suicide one year prior plays before Blaire's boyfriend, Mitch, calls her on Skype. The two share an intimate moment discussing Blaire's virginity before the call is interrupted by three of their friends and a mysterious extra member with the username "billie227." After trying to get rid of the extra member, Blaire begins receiving threatening messages on Youtube from Laura's Facebook account. The friends suspect another classmate is to blame, and add her to the Skype call. Soon, "billie227" begins playing games with the group and turning them against each other, before killing them off one by one in an intense game of Never Have I Ever. No one is who they seem and we learn what really happened to Laura Barns.

One thing I loved about Unfriended was how real it seemed. The operating system they used was real, and not fabricated for screen. The browser showed websites teens normally look at (although through product placement, MTV's Teen Wolf and Free People were two of the open tabs) and we see Laura doing things that people on the internet normally do - multi-task, click through tabs, IM her friends, search the internet. Spotify was used to add music in a way that music isn't usually used in found footage. The Skype call was lagged and the filmmakers used that anticipation to their advantage. We all know the Skype ringtone all too well, and the app was used in a way that makes me never want to receive a Skype call again. Although some might find it distracting, the internet use in Unfriended was clever, especially for a teen movie put out by MTV.  Although Unfriended had a budget of only $1M, it sported some pretty excellent gore. There's a blender scene I will never forget and I was thoroughly freaked out by a couple of the kills. 

Unfriended has a narrative about the real harmful effects of cyber bullying. A 2006 report stated that cyber bullying "affects almost half of all American teens," a number that must be rising with the increase of technology over the past nine years. Preceded by The Den, and Open Windows, Unfriended takes place solely on the internet and I'm a sucker for the growing use of computer technology in horror. In fact, I think Unfriended will surge an entire new genre of horror and I'm excited to see what will come from that. 

Did you see Unfriended? What did you think? What upcoming horror flicks are you excited for?

Author's note: I totally forgot to mention that Unfriended DOES have some teen language. Be prepared for some slut shaming. (I know, I know, but it came from MTV so like, what were you expecting?) 

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