You know what’s a fun game? Watching movies that aren’t even that old (in some cases, as little as six years later) and noticing the outdated technology characters carry around. I first noticed this in Mars Attacks!, when Sarah Jessica Parker is eating breakfast, when she suddenly gets an important call on her massive cell phone. It’s relic of another age, but instead of reducing the entirety of the feature to being an outdated piece of entertainment, seeing this kind of tech more often than not just comes off as charming to me.
It’s likely viewers will look at Unfriended in similar ways down the line, with these futuristic viewers declaring the presence of utilities like Skype as just artifacts from the ancient time of 2015. Alas, these watchers won’t be able to also discover a riveting film, since Unfriended mostly squanders its potential. I say mostly because, to be fair, the earlier parts of this movie are pretty damn scary. As the plot, which centers on six teenagers haunted on a Skype chat by the spirit of a deceased student they cyberbullied, kicks off, there’s an eerie tone that lives by the term “less is more”.
The naturalistic interactions of the cast are put as the top priority, which make the scary moments that crop up here all the more powerful. These bits derive their terror from standing out against the more realistic environment the cast has created up to that point. The fact that many of these instances of thrills don’t call too much attention to themselves only heighten their effectiveness. Unfortunately, the spirit of the passed away student, Claire, can’t stay so hidden in the background forever, and soon the films horror trades in subtlety for gross-out deaths.
Primarily the problem with getting rid of the more nuanced delivery of the stories numerous scares is two-fold; one is that very few of these scenes intended to put a viewer on edge accomplish actually being petrifying. Even more problematic is that as Claire’s terror continues, more and more logical fallacies open up, namely revolving around how much power this cyber ghost demon thingy truly is. When there’s no set limit or vulnerabilities to an antagonist in any story, tension leaves a room quicker than I leave a restaurant that only serves vegetables.
Of course, Claire isn’t the only vessel the feature uses to deliver sequences designed to thrill and shock. As the story progresses, the ghosts various acts of violence leave the survivors panic-stricken, and the stress of the situation makes them turn on each other. This could be an excellent opportunity to add depth to the cast and make the danger they’re in all the more compelling, but it just amounts to the various members of the cast shouting at each other for long duration’s of time. Once the climax of Unfriended arrives and tries to paint Claire as some sort of anti-hero, I was pretty much ready to log out of this adventure, or press the esc button, or force quit the film. Whatever internet related pun you prefer, just know that I found Unfriended to be a film full of flaws that not even spellcheck could fix.