“Unfriended” is a micro-budget horror film that unravels in the place everyone loves to be: the Internet. As stupid as it sounds, it actually turns out to be legitimately terrifying.
“Unfriended” begins with a video about a girl named Laura (Heather Sossaman). Three days after the video goes viral, Laura commits suicide. Then, on the anniversary of her death, five teenagers on a Skype call get attacked by a supernatural force that seeks revenge for Laura. Again, I reiterate: this movie could have been dumb. But with the intense environment of a buggy Skype call combined with excellent sound design, “Unfriended” is a great horror flick.
What makes it work is the concept: the entire movie is on a laptop, which builds the fear really well. At times during the Skype calls, the call drops. Those moments are the most spine-tingling in the film. At other times the video freezes and the characters are constantly calling their names. This builds the tension, and when the scares happen, they are extremely effective.
The sound design gave me the same chills as when I saw the first “Paranormal Activity” movie. The actors, for the roles they play, are fairly good. When they are scared, you feel it. When they suffer, it feels like genuine pain. When people die, it hurts. A lot. Young actors in horror movies are often there only for sex appeal, but there is little to none of that in this film.
With all the good, however, comes the bad. And one of the biggest drawbacks is that the characters are not the smartest. The main female, Blaire (Shelley Hennig), might just be the dumbest woman on the planet, but every character has stupid moments. Some of the scares feel cheap and easy. Finally, the ending really brings the movie down. All of the deaths have a gritty feeling, but the last is unbelievably cliché.
Overall, despite the unsatisfactory ending and stupidity of the characters, “Unfriended” is a shining example of how a new concept in horror can be done very well.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.