UNFRIENDED (USA/16/83mins)
Directed by Levan Gabriadze, Starring Heather Sossaman, Courtnet Halverston, Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Will Peltz, Renee Olstead, Jacob Wysocki.

THE PLOT: As a group of teens are chatting online, they find themselves targeted by someone using their dead friend’s Facebook page. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this is not someone playing a prank on them, but a restless spirit bent on revenge.

THE VERDICT: Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the cinema, when you thought the found footage fad was dead and gone… Like the serial killer at the end of the slasher flick, it’s back and scarier than ever.

UNFRIENDED stars Heather Sossaman as Laura, Courtney Halverson as Val, Shelley Hennig as Blaire, Moses Storm as Mitch, Will Peltz as Adam, Renee Olstead as Jess and Jacob Wysocki as Ken. The cast do surprisingly well in their roles, since they spend most of their time seated and communicating through Skype, Facebook, Instagram or iMessage. The cast manage to convey the fears and frustrations of their teenage characters while hardly ever getting up from their desks, and although we only know what they reveal in conversation, we learn enough about them to root for them throughout the film.

Nelson Greaves’ script is told through the medium of the computer screen, specifically through Blaire’s computer as she goes through a terrifying evening online. Although this is her screen, we only ever see her on it – until the final seconds of the film – so we really never learn anything more than Blaire does. The audience is not in on the secret here, although we are generally faster to catch on to what’s happening, so we are in it with these characters. The banter between the characters feels real, like these are teens that you would encounter in real life, but the script starts to fall apart when they start vanishing from the story, as none of the other characters really seem to care once their friends have vanished off their computer screens.

Director Levan Gabriaze seems to know exactly who this film is for – 14-16 year olds – and aims directly at them, leaving little for those of us outside of that age range to relate to. The kids are recognisable, sure, but their decisions seem even sillier than the usual horror movie decisions. That said, the film is well paced, with the jumps and scares scattered throughout the film, and a sense of helplessness that builds throughout the film.

In all, UNFRIENDED is a film about teens, for teens. There are a couple of decent scares in there, but although the film tries to do something new with the found footage schtick, this is really nothing that we haven’t seen before. Even the scares aren’t that scary… And I’m a wuss.

RATING: 2.5/5
Review by Brogen Hayes

Unfriended
Review by Brogen Hayes
2.5Not that scary
  • filmbuff2011

    Called Cybernatural in the US (a better and more accurate title), Unfriended has been acclaimed as a new breed of horror film. That’s frankly baffling, as it’s not exactly original – FearDotCom and My Little Eye have explored similar territory. The only horrific thing about this film is how it ever got made. It’s set entirely within the confines of a computer desktop belonging to teenager Blaire (Shelley Hennig). Yes, really. All we get to see is her fiddling around with her computer as she chats to a group of friends over Skype (biggest product placement of all time). She mostly chats to her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm), while at the same time communicating with the others in the group. Like, it’s soooo super-hard to walk down the road and go for a coffee… Anyway, a mystery person joins their group and soon starts harassing them. Could it be the ghost of Blaire’s former friend Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) who killed herself after being taunted by cyber bullies? Or is just someone playing sick mind games with them all? This film really is something else allright. Whoever thought this was a good idea for a film should be subjected to Miley Cyrus videos on a YouTube loop. That would be director Levan Gabriadze and writer Nelson Greaves. They haven’t a clue how to make a decent horror film. Most of the film revolves around the viewer / torture subject having to watch various computer windows move around at a fast pace while keeping up with the story. Get ready to squint if you’re sitting on the back row. A lot of the video chats are garbled due to poor Wi-Fi connectivity, rendering the film virtually unwatchable at times. Maybe that’s just Gabriadze being realistic, but it’s more irritating than anything else. Just when you think you might get to see something potentially scary, it cuts away quickly. Tame. It all gets very boring very quickly, to the point where this reviewer was more interested in checking that the computer clock was registering time correctly rather than all the shouting, screaming and general nonsense onscreen. Or maybe hoping that it would be over quickly. At just 82 minutes, it feels like a one-joke short that should be 10 minutes instead. If this is the future of horror films, then we’re all doomed. A clueless, boring, frustrating and mind-numbingly awful film that you should hit delete on straight away. Unfriended is very likely to be the worst film of the year, maybe even the decade. *