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A simple night of video chatting between high school friends turns deadly when their conversation is crashed by someone, or something with its own nefarious agenda. Soon these six teens realize that the anonymous entity knows all of their dark secrets and reveals them one by one. Pitting them against each other leads to mistrust and finger pointing within the group. The account in question that is causing all of the mischief belongs to Laura Barns. The eerie part about that is Laura, who was a classmate and friend to each of these individuals, committed suicide a year ago to the day that this cyberbullying begins. Divide and conquer is the path the mysterious provocateur takes as the situation escalate. Unfriended aims to evoke fear in a “cybernatural” way.

Just as a full disclosure note here, Unfriended is told from the point of view of one single laptop in a single location. This includes all of the dialogue, interaction between characters, etc. Skype, Facebook and iMessage are the main vehicles in which everything is accomplished. Just setting expectations here. The audience pretty much takes on the role of a voyeur throughout the film. That being said it’s a pretty natural feeling with this type of movie. The acting is what you’d expect from a movie like this especially given that it’s in more of a reality tv environment. No Oscars will be awarded here. As for the plot and backstory, it’s pretty thin but it is serviceable enough to get across the story it’s trying to tell. Having said that, it is far from one that’s truly compelling. At the end of the day all of this is about Laura Barns and why she took her life.

Unfriended attempts to use the common technology of today as the immersive vehicle to put audiences front and center smack dab in the middle of the plot. This ploy is not uncommon as it was done with the Paranormal Activity franchise as well as The Blair Witch Project movies. The strategy can be hit or miss depending on the execution as both previous examples have proven. In today’s world what the Levan Gabriadze directed horror thriller is angling to achieve has been done many times over. Unfortunately it does not do enough to warrant it to stand above its predecessors. It falls into the “me too” category which will quickly lead it to obscurity.

While some will appreciate the way this story is constructed, most will not enjoy it because it relies too heavily on being able to connect and empathize with the pitfalls of social media albeit in a supernatural way. For the perfect demographic (13 – 18 year olds) the movie has some potential. However, being rated R means that 66% of optimal viewers cannot purchase a ticket without an adult or guardian which translates into a very low box office number. On the plus side, that should get Unfriended out of the theaters and into homes quicker which is where it should have started off in the first place.

Unfriended is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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