Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

Unfriended

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A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.

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Cast

Shelley Hennig – Blaire Lily

Moses Jacob Storm – Mitch Roussel

Renee Olstead – Jess Felton

Will Peltz – Adam Sewell

Jacob Wysocki – Ken Smith

Courtney Halverson – Val Rommel

Heather Sossaman – Laura Barns

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Anticipation

About 75% of this movie had me on edge, waiting for something to happen during certain moments – and wincing the entire time I was doing so. I absolutely love this feeling during a movie, and Unfriended brought it on nicely. I’ve had more than my fair share of staring at computer screens during Skype and Facebook conversations, but never did I expect to feel so on-edge whilst looking at this particular one. The movie plays out entirely on a young teenager’s computer screen – an Apple Mac – as she shifts between windows for Skype conversation between friends, and her personal Facebook account where she is recieving strange messages. Simple – but very effective. This is one of those movies that makes something very routine very watchable; how was watching a girl click and type her way around a computer screen interesting?!

..because of the story and how it was portrayed. This movie takes the simple (but very serious) concept of cyber-bullying and stirs in the tragic story of a schoolgirl who took her own life. The overall sinister atmosphere flows naturally as soon as the kids start experiencing terrifying events whilst online to each other. I won’t lie – I spent a good percentage of this movie biting my bottom lip whilst squinting and bowing my head in sheer anticipation of what was coming. In particular, moments when ‘the hacker’ suddenly popped up in a window (disguised by Skype’s default blue contact icon). The no-cam, no-audio window simply sits there as he or she types threatening words to the dumbfounded kids who sit watching helplessly. I was sat there wondering what was going to happen; would the person’s camera suddenly kick in as they throw themselves at the screen? Would the uneasy silence suddenly be shattered by a strange loud noise?..

In real life there are those weird video clips floating about the internet, where you’re supposed to sit watching the screen for something to happen – and suddenly a blood-curdling scream pierces the air. I’ve seen one or two of these – and literally shit a brick.
Was something like this about to happen in the movie? Was a person’s face with their mouth hanging open about to hit the screen?.. the suspense was literally nail-biting, I was loving every second of it. Unfriended is a horror movie based on events which genuinely affect people around the world, and I think this is its winning element. Top marks here to the producers.

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Concentrate

Ever heard the phrase ‘blink and you’ll miss it’?
It couldn’t be more accurate. Or in my case, I didn’t actually blink – I glanced down at my boot randomly.

..and missed a crucial part of the movie. Yes, for those 1 – 2 seconds I was admiring my footwear, I missed whatever it was that made one of the female characters start screaming hysterically. So my top tip for potential viewers of this movie: concentrate. Keep your eyes on the screen at all times. This also applies to the kids typing messages to each other or certain internet pages they open whilst in the group chat, every keyboard click is relevant.

Why is watching footage of people in ‘real time’ situations so much more intriguing than watching a standard Hollywood movie? I thought this as I sat watching Unfriended. The entire concept of horror unfolding whilst the kids are sat on their own in front of a webcam – but together online – was brilliant. Some people might find a movie like this boring – and hey, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But personally being a fan of ‘found footage’-style features, I fucking lapped it up. What also eased me into the movie more was familiarity; the portryal of familiar computer programmes that I have used myself including YouTube and standard Apple software. Home from home, horror from horror.

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Trolls

The good thing this movie is its message. What it does is highlight the sensitive issue of internet abuse. Many people have experienced what are referred to as ‘trolls’ – complete strangers who purposely abuse others online virtually by posting messages on walls, in groups, or by direct contact. Unfriended doesn’t analyze the activity of Trolls in-depth as such, but it does focus on the impact cyber-bullying has on its victims. Much of this movie is screaming and crying as the five friends are each targeted by the annonymous troll. Probably the most unnerving (and effective – if you’re a horror fan) element of the movie are the victims reactions to their predator’s actions, as he (or she) exposes their darkest secrets without hesitation. The subtle “hey guys, who’s that online with us?” atmosphere quickly spirals into panic, and then genuine horror.

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Insults always seem more vicious when online don’t they. Somehow, the fact the abuse is coming from an unknown, random person sat behind their computer screen feels worse than if you were having an actual physical argument. I’ve experienced it myself; random person online types whatever they want – because they can. And sometimes I’ve been genuinely shaken by the freaky behaviour. The fact it’s happening online emphasizes the threat somewhat. Strange.
Running in the background (pun intended) is an undercurrent of privacy issues; being careful what you post online for the world to see. As mentioned above, the lead character’s Facebook page comes into play when nasty stuff is uploaded to her wall, and she is unable to remove any of the content. And then the comments start flooding in, making her situation worse..

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Threatening Troll behaviour is consistent throughout and amplifies the atmosphere nicely. Without it, Unfriended would be a nose-dive of utter bullshit. The panic and threat are what make this movie the sinister feature it is.

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What Went Wrong

Ok, I’ve praised Unfriended enough. But as always, I bring you the good and the bad. So what was shit about this movie?..

Immaturity.
Yes, I know the characters are of high school age, but much of their activity is cringeworthy. And it’s mainly their secrets – revelations made about them – that (to a person three or four years older) seem like small potatoes. Lines such as, “oh my god, you crashed my mom’s car” and “Jess fucked the high school football team” came across as immature, and issues that probably wouldn’t affect many people emotionally, yet these kids go beserk over them. The issue of “selling weed” also arises – not overly dramatic, loads of people do it. Yet the person accused erupts in hysterical screams of anger.
The revelations made are slightly stupid and immature, but then I guess they reflect the ages of the victims. I was however, hoping for secrets on a more dramatic scale to surface – which didn’t.

I suppose my point of immaturity doesn’t really stand; this is a movie about a bunch of high school kids. But still, the fact these kids had a fit over (not exactly life-changing) events irritated me.

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Chat Roulette Threat?

Keep your eyes peeled for the scene involving chat website Chat Roulette.
Having used this site a lot myself for fun, I could totally relate to what was happening on screen and ended up laughing at the familiarity. The atmosphere was raised in the auditorium too, as much of the audience were gasping and laughing out loud during the scene. It’s bizarre – not necessarily tragic, but certainly entertaining.

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Unfriended is bizarre. Twisted. Entertaining. A warning. It takes a simple concept and stirs in generous servings of threat and panic to create a tense little horror. Its winning element has to be how it highlights the serious issue of cyber bullying / harrassment. It drills deep into the effect these nasty bastards around the world have on unsuspecting young adults, delivering a movie that is both raw and realistic.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie. If anything, I assumed it would be a load of tacky bullshit. But it definitey had an impact. I found myself biting my lip and cowering in preparation for something to jump out at me more than once, and the movie had me questioning certain aspects of it.
The Social Network meets The Blair Witch Project as producer Jason Blum brings horror to the screen in the form of realsitc events. Unfriended is deliciously cult, and I’d definitely grab it if I saw it in a ‘bargain bin’ – purchase wise, it’s not worth paying ‘new release price’ for but if you can get it cheap, give it a go. Or just download it like many other people do.

Be careful when you’re online though. You never know who might be watching..

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This entry was posted on May 3, 2015 by .
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