Economically Nasty: Our Review of ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 18, 2018
Economically Nasty: Our Review of ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’

Sometimes the mind just boggles…especially when something works as well as it actually does…

With Unfriended: Dark Web I know most of us are struggling to even remember the first movie from back in 2014…so just don’t.  With yet another movie selling the dangers and creepy nature of the internet it’s rare to get one that for the most part works and actually delivers some genuine scary moments throughout.

When a 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop, he and his friends are unwittingly thrust into the depths of the dark web. They soon discover someone has been watching their every move and will go to unimaginable lengths to protect the dark web.

Yeah, I can’t deny that this movie is just ridiculous this directorial debut from veteran horror writer Stephen Susco (who also wrote the screenplay) is so ridiculously well executed that you just can’t help but get knowingly wrapped up into the bullshit…because it’s actually pretty entertaining.

Sure, you have to have a certain propensity to suspend your disbelief but really, doesn’t EVERY horror movie ask us to do that?  It’s a tightly crafted affair that hinges around our tendency to lean on our apps and things organized around social media rather than actually talking and spending time people while playing into some of the more nefarious that is out there on the world wide web.  It’s hardly a preachy effort and it actually plays into some surprisingly bleak territory as it’s never a film about a haunted house or a ghost or anything like that.  It’s just one of the worst things of all…horrible people doing horrible things to one another in real life, which is why the whole thing kind of works.  Granted there are some thread bare plot points and generally goofy moments throughout the film, but it also has the benefit of knowing exactly what it is trying to be.  A scary movie on a budget and it works.

There are zero stars or recognizable faces in this film and that actually serves in its favor.  It allows us as an audience not to fall into any kind of obvious or hokey horror movie tropes.  It’s a universe where everyone is at risk and no one is safe.  It’s a tight script as the narrative effortless flows from the throw away nonsense of these friends at “Game Night” on Skype while the multi window experience that we’ve all grown so a custom to living our lives hooked into our computers is not something that will ever be jarring or off putting at this stage and it has a quality that often goes over looked in horror movies these days.  The film gets us with a sense of chaotic simplicity.

This is a genuinely nasty film, there’s no cutesy, wink to the camera moments before someone gets killed (and this film actually has a pretty unique and memorable on screen death in it), it only ever tries to be genuinely upsetting and for the most part, it absolutely works from beginning until the end, which admittedly does get a little over the top in the final act but we as audience just feel more predisposed to enjoy the ride of the nonsense washing on to us over the screens and windows into this world that are presented in front of us.  In a full theatre or dark basement with friends, I can see this being a ton of fun as well.  It’s a film of a certain economy, as it never tries to do too much…and that’s just perfect.

There’s some genuinely helpless terror on display in Unfriended: Dark Web because when it actually forces you past the gimmick of having all this film roll out on the screen, there’s some legitimately upsetting shit right underneath the surface.  Much like the internet and much like life itself and one can only hope this will get a chance to stand out and not drown in the land of mediocre pablum that houses oh so many genre sequels that don’t work as well as this one does.

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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