Arts & CultureFilm & TV

Film Review: ‘Unfriended’ showcases a very real horror in society today — technology

Horror movies often taken risks, even with the intense pressure they’re under to succeed. Whether it’s the pioneer of handheld camera horror, The Blair Witch Project, or later down the road, Paranormal Activity; new styles set precedents.

While numerous horror films have used everyday technology to induce fear, such as the movie Pulse in which, similar to Unfriended, the dead communicate through emails and other computer outlets, none have leaped as far as creating a film entirely set on a computer screen. And surprisingly, a new precedent in the world of horror was once again set.

Unfriended showcases a very real horror in society today – technology. The film portrays (in obvious metaphorical exaggeration) everything that is wrong with the way young people in particular use the Internet, and how this “Internet culture” has influenced them into becoming people who do horrible things to one another. Including, but not limited to: Slut-shaming, teenage suicide, date rape and cheating.

We see Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig) going about her typical online behavior – shopping at Free People, listening to music and chatting with her high school sweatheart. While Skyping with her boyfriend, four mutual friends end up in the mix. Members of the group begin to receive Facebook messages from their classmate, Laura Barns, who had killed herself exactly one year prior. Eventually the group notices an unwelcome guest in their Skype session, using Laura’s account.

Things truly begin to go south when the person on the account begins to reveal secrets among the friends, pitting them against each other.

Their friendship is tested to the limits in a game of Never Have I Ever, but there’s a catch. The loser of the game, who runs out of fingers to hold up doesn’t drink – they die (gruesomely). Now there’s a fun spin on an old party game!

While many horror movies utilize eerie music to get a reaction from the audience, this film effectively used complete silence to get the same effect. This was a true testament as to how the content could hold up on its own, giving a more realistic portrayal of what it would actually be like behind a computer screen.

In theory, everything about Unfriended seems like another sad attempt at creating something new within an overdone genre.

In reality, the film succeeded in creating something entirely new, satisfyingly disturbing and honestly meaningful to an entire generation and beyond.

Unfriended was released in theaters everywhere April 17. 

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Sydney Zuelke

Sydney Zuelke