Sunday, June 26, 2016

Film Review: Unfriended (2014)

Copyright: Universal Pictures
Horror and technology always work well together, especially when the technology in question is something that is all consuming when it comes to the masses. There is probably related to some deep fear that is skeptical about any new tool that any primate species develops and humanity is no different.

As science progressed, the number of these tools multiplied and our fears followed. Interestingly enough, in the 20th century, the focus of the horror genre for the first time moved away from things like weapons (atom bomb) and poisons, which were tropes even in the previous eras and started to get interested in tools of communications.

Killer VHS tapes, haunted cell phones and death music records were just some of them, but now, the age of the internet provided new locations where the horror hooks can land. Unfriended is a film about VoIP technology which becomes possessed by a restless spirit.

After a girl commits suicide after being humiliated and taped one night, a group of friends who knew her gets together on Skype to talk, like they regularly do. However, they soon notice that someone else is in the group with them and wants to join in. This begins a bloody sequence of “who’s next”, all the while providing the viewers with the webcam perspective on the action.

As an evolution of the found footage genre, the film works more as a novelty piece than a true horror, but this is plain from the beginning, so the audience will not feel cheated (for the most part). Levan Gabriadze directed the film as his first states-side project and did a decent job with this fresh approach. The cast, like the overall plot and its horror moments, is adequate but do not go over this line. In all, only Gabriadze offers something that is above the good-enough benchmark, even though Unfriended isn’t probably the best chance to show what he truly can do.

It’s always good to see that the found footage domain is evolving. As it started to provide its best results so far, like, for example, The Visit, it is comforting to know that the next generation of filmmakers is looking what to do next with this horror genre.

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