Unfriended is a horror film that is sort of a deviation of the found footage genre. The entire film takes place from the view of a teenage girl’s computer screen. Blaire and her boyfriend and a handful of other friends are in a group chat on Skype, when a mysterious party enters the conversation. In the group chat the icon is blank/no picture, and no matter what they do from a technical standpoint they can’t get rid of this person.
Assuming it’s a hacker, they realize this Skype account is from Laura, Blaire’s childhood friend who killed herself one year ago. Blaire is also getting Facebook messages from Laura’s account. As they try to investigate, it is suggested that it is actually Laura’s ghost out for revenge. At one point a forum post is read about not answering electronic messages from dead people, as it appears what is happening to them is a world-wide phenomenon. This supernatural phenomenon is not extrapolated on much further, there’s not much of a plot angle to suggest a logical explanation. The movie simply gives the audience this concept and runs with it.
As events unfold secrets are revealed about each character, and slowly we see each one of them die via the webcam. There’s a few death scenes that are quick but pretty gruesome. Unfriended doesn’t give much in the actual scare department, partly because the characters are unlikable, and as you find out, not nice people. It does provide some real emotionally intense moments. The highlight being the “Never Have I Ever” game in which each person has five fingers up, and must put one down if they’ve ever done an action mentioned in the game. For example, “Never have I ever roofied a girl.” One male character puts a finger down who has done that.
The theme of the story is modern cyber bullying. There was an embarrassing video of a drunk Laura on Youtube that lead to her suicide, and each of the characters had a part to play in her misery.
Unfriended offers a new way of storytelling for this generation. The whole story is told via Skype, Facebook, and instant messenger, with I-tunes occasionally providing a soundtrack. Some background information is also provided by what Blaire begins to type, but then erases to say something else.
While not exactly frightening, Unfriended offers possibilities in this offshoot of the found footage genre. I’m curious to see what direction filmmakers can take it from here, and how scary this idea can be in the future.