Cyber Yawn: A Review of ‘Unfriended’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - April 18, 2015
Cyber Yawn: A Review of ‘Unfriended’

“The Newest Experience in Horror” lines like that have been common hyperbole in movie marketing for years and the latest variation on the theme is no different.  Unfriended is a neat premise that would have worked just fine for a short film or as a way to kick off a movie, but 82 minutes of staring at a fake computer screen, imagining that we are online with people is just the dullest way imaginable to spend an evening out, we’re supposed to want to get away from our computer screens, not pay $13 to sit in front of them.

It’s a standard night for six high school friends jumping on video chat together…that is until they all get a message from a friend who killed herself a year earlier.  Naturally they all think that it is just a sick prank that is being played on them, but when the caller starts to reveal all of their deepest and darkest secrets, they realize that they are dealing with something beyond their comprehension as something from beyond the grave wants these six to join them on the other side.

While I’ll give everyone involved in Unfriended points for sticking to the premise and the concept, this ended up being a horror movie, that genuinely wasn’t scary and ended up evoking more awkward pity laughs then any genuine tension.unfriended-horror-movie

As we are essentially staring at a computer screen for 82 minutes, it’s a little tough to speak on direction, action, production design or anything even remotely salient.  The movie just sat there, and when we hit the 20 minute mark and realize that this is all the movie is every going to do, we get very bored, very fast as the other shoe just never bothers to drop.  Director Leo Gabriadze to his credit manages to keep everything visually on point as it never breaks or deviates from the concept, even though it desperately needed to while the attempts at tension in the script from writer Nelson Greaves only work on very few instances as we have get performances being delivered via somewhat grainy, somewhat pixilated screens with each characters reactions.

While the performances in this film are actually pretty solid, despite none of the characters ever being in the same room together this movie can’t get over it’s one major flaw no matter how unique the concept actually is.  We just don’t give a fuck about any of these people, they come across as jaded, self involved teens who have the world revolve around them.  In this age of cyber bulling and social media, it almost feels like this movie is delivering the message to be nice and kind to people or you’ll get haunted via the internet.  It’s a solid young ensemble but it all just misses the mark, they never get us scared or empathetic, we are just watching a pixilated snuff film involving shitty people.

There is admittedly some potential in Unfriended, but it pushes a unique cinematic concept into realms of laughable boredom.  A horror, thriller that generates more laughs then scares needs to get filed as quickly as possible.  Some ideas just aren’t meant to be pushed as far as they can go, and this is a prime example of that, avoid it at all costs.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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