Since the time of 'The Blair Witch Project," the horror film landscape had been peppered with various variations of the "found footage" style ad nauseam. This even created an entire profitable franchise in the "Paranormal Activity" series. It is high time for something new to shake up the horror genre. Here comes "Unfriended" where all the action happens online from a computer screen.
Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig) and her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm) were having a naughty private chat online, when they were suddenly joined in by their other friends namely the nervous Adam (Will Peltz), the clueless Jess (Renee Olsted), the techie Ken (Jacob Wysocki), and the bitchy Val (Courtney Halverson).
However, that night, they were joined by a mysterious account that seemingly belonged to their other friend Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman). However, Laura had been dead for a year now. She had committed suicide after being cyber-bullied when an embarrassing video of her in a drunken stupor was posted on the net. Now, Laura wants payback and badly.
The conceit of this horror flick is that all we are seeing on the big screen is what Blaire sees on her Apple laptop screen. We see her watching Youtube, posting on Facebook, group chatting on Skype with webcams, downloading videos and photos, among other online activities we are all familiar with. That is what makes the horror, outlandish as it may seem, in this film so palpable. It involves activities we do practically do every day as we fiddle with our computers. The possibility that the paranormal can infiltrate our virtual reality is compelling stuff.
Director Levan Gabriadze, in his breakthrough Hollywood debut, effectively creates genuine chills despite the limited confines of his setting. Annoying computer problems, like slow download speeds, screen glitches and snail-paced buffering times, had been used to create suspense and excitement to push the scare level up. Of course, the obvious downside of this film's gimmick is that computer-illiterate people who do not understand these online activities will find all the clicking around on screen to be completely ludicrous and meaningless.
I appreciate the originality of this film in the story-telling technique. The name of the lead character, Blaire, could well be a tribute to the "Blair Witch Project", reflecting its attempt to break new territory in horror film-making with this movie. I caught its reference to "Dangerous Liaisons" at the end and I liked it. It is as much an intense suspense film, as it is a sociological treatise on today's youth and the brutal cyber world they live in. 8/10.