Where to begin with this one…
The mere existence of Unfriended feels like an insult to horror altogether. To me, it comes across as a corporate cash in designed to cater to the MTV tweens with unlikable, market-theorized, poorly written high school stereotypes using the latest “hip” technology for cheap scares. Toss in some “happening” lingo and this cliched, irritating, sad excuse for suspense will not only become quickly dated with time, but long forgotten as that stupid, flippant, webcam movie.
So… nice title, huh? Doesn’t that sound like a frightening time? It’s not even that pertinent to the plot. A girl commits suicide and blames it on a humiliating video shot and uploaded by her mature, high school friends. Her death made headlines across the web, but she has a problem staying dead because she feels that she was betrayed. The only “unfriending” part is her ghost’s vengeful killing spree of everyone involved. I’m really not spoiling anything mentioning that she’s a ghost because there are FAR too many technological serial killer flicks out there.
Like I said, this one wants to be that new kind of horror movie for the kiddies, and what better way to do it with a Skype call that lasts the whole movie!? Oh, and the pioneering director wants it to be authentic, too, so how about we have the entire movie completely take place on a computer screen? Great, now the audience can know how crappy the reception can be on a web chat and feel cramped at the same time. That alone is why half of the scares don’t work. Something will happen, and you’re left questioning, along with the main character and her friends, what’s going on, trying to make out the images. After it jump cuts back briefly, you find yourself caring less and less about the fate of the doomed because you feel like the stuttering movie is buffering. What’s even worse is Universal’s attempt at being clever and having its logo do the same thing. It’s almost embarrassing for them, really.
In a word, the cast sound strident together. Their arguments become endurance rounds for the viewer because these teens can’t ever get a grip. Their dialogue is to blame, however, but it doesn’t even matter what unknowns are in this. They are all written as whiny, backstabbing, cruel people. How they actually remain friends remains a mystery because no one ever feels developed enough. Any chance at getting beyond the stale personalities is interrupted by the ghost’s antics. While some secrets are revealed as the plot slugs on, the second you start to feel any emotion for anybody, the feelings are taken away by an unexplained, possessive death. Still wondering about the actual scare factor for this mess? It ironically comes from the unfamiliar, creepy, negative beep that comes when the ghost sends a message rather than the gruesome deaths themselves–in short, their attempts are pitiful.
And that’s where things get downright ridiculous. The computer can now be inhabited by a ghost that can hack functions, Skype calls, Facebook, and even go as far as linking, chatting, uploading content, and sending viruses. How does that work? Never explained. How does she possess people across the web? No thrown bones. Why don’t they all just shut their computers off when the main character discovers one shouldn’t feed into “dead spirits” online? Because then we wouldn’t have this idiocy.
Just because the trailer makes something look innovative and creepy doesn’t mean the real thing will hold up. In fact, half of the movie feels like filler with all of their online chatting and goofing around. The run time of 1 hour and 22 minutes should say it all right there. The final product is half-assed garbage, funded by some of the most blatant product placement in film history (I’m talking about the character’s excessive tab browsing, of course. Skype, Apple, and Facebook are bare minimum givens and would have sufficed fine on their own.)
Don’t answer any calls to see this movie. Hold out for the Poltergeist remake. Now that I mention it, the original Poltergeist made technology with ghosts a helluva lot scarier… and that was in the early eighties.