The horror genre always seems to be the guinea pig for film experimentation, from the special effects in silent classics like ‘Nosferatu’ to the first real “found footage” flick, ‘The Blair Witch Project.” Risks can be taken on the cheap because as long as there is a savvy hook, young audiences will always show up to these movies on opening night and investment can be recouped. This is exactly the case with the newly released, “Unfriended”, a horror / possession / revenge movie that defines minimalism by using a seemingly interesting technique – the entire film unfolds over Skype, Facebook, and Google.
It is apparent that most of the budget of this film was used to secure the rights to use the above digital brands, in an attempt to legitimize the proceedings – no doubt this will work on the target audience. Usually invoking current social fears and issues is the foundation for solid horror, but ‘Unfriended’s plot revolving around cyber-bullying, teen drinking, and suicide comes off as more exploitive than prescient. Good horror movies need a clear hero/heroine that the audience can identify with and root for, but in this movie there is really no one to feel for, and the acting is unconvincing, no matter how much slang, swearing, and computer-savvy skills these teen victims display.
The premise just does not work in this film despite being an intriguing one on the surface – unless other filmmakers can infuse this type of experience with real pathos and tension, ‘social-network films’ will hopefully fade away . . .
Directed By: Levan Gabriadze
Written By: Nelson Greaves
Running Time: 82 min.
* (out of four stars)