I paid six bucks on Amazon Video to rent Unfriended. It’s a film that takes place 100% on a computer. The premise is this: one year ago, high school girl Laura Barns committed suicide at school; a direct result of the cyberbullying she experienced after someone posted a humiliating video of her. Now, on the anniversary of her death, a group of friends are group-chatting via Skype when a stranger joins them. At the same time, someone claiming to be the dead girl starts messaging them on Facebook. It seems that Laura–or someone who’s hacked her accounts–is back, and she’s ready to get revenge. She takes control of all the kids’ computers and phones and forces them to play a game designed to turn them against one another and reveal their part in what happened to her a year ago. One by one, people die.
This worked for me. It really did. I didn’t get super scared, but it was compelling. The closed system of the computer screen (and we see the entire film through what Blaire sees on her screen) creates a claustrophobic environment that is unique but works like an isolated cabin in the words or a haunted house, abandoned mental hospital, creepy basement…whatever.
You can’t escape, and you have limited vision and knowledge. In a classic horror film, you can only see as far as the flashlight beam, or the next turn in the corridor. In Unfriended, you’re limited to the messages Blaire receives and the web cam feeds from her friends’ computers. This incomplete information is…scary. From the camera’s limited range to glitchy video that cuts in and out, you’re never really sure what exactly is happening to Blaire’s friends…but you know it’s bad.
This was good. I’d recommend it. It might be disorienting for people who don’t spend much time online, but do you know anyone like that? I give this a three-quarter Afghan of Doom. It didn’t terrify me, but it was well worth the six bucks.