Unfriended - 3 Stars
This paranormal thriller uses inventive filming methods from the found footage genre, but fails to scare.
Levan Gabriadze directs the movie which is classified as a found footage paranormal thriller. The plot for the movie is simple – on the anniversary of the death of Laura Barns, who committed suicide a year earlier, a group of her friends find themselves haunted by her presence. Laura is out to avenge her untimely death.
Laura does achieves her goal by causing the friends to reveal their hidden secrets and pay the ultimate price for her suffering.
Shelley Hennig, who plays Blaire Lily, along with her boyfriend, Mitch Roussel (played by Moses Jacob Storm) feature in the open scenes and dominate much of the cast interaction throughout the movie. Hennig is the standout among the cast.
Perhaps the most outstanding feature of this movie is the fact that the entire movie is viewed as though one is watching a computer screen with much of the film shown as a panel of Skype windows where the action unfolds for each character. Skype is not the only platform for viewing the interaction among the cast, with YouTube and a chat program also featuring. Given the directors penchant for showing multiple screen views this movie is suited to the big screen.
However, it is difficult to determine whether the script, written by Nelson Greaves, is insufficiently developed to create the level of scariness suggested by the trailer or whether the sterility in the human interaction that results as result of limiting the setting to Skype and chat is the main detractor for this movie. While the use of particular songs from Spotify is a novel way for setting the sound track for the movie, some of the song choices serve to introduce a level of humour into the movie rather than building the suspense and horror.
Be warned – there are a couple of unpleasant, although brief, scenes. These scenes would have been better left on the cutting room floor and re-shot in way to truly add suspense.
Overall the use of the found footage style of movie making does work, though more needed to be done to build the feeling of personal interaction between the characters. At least shooting a computer screen is devoid of constant shaking associated with movies shot using a smart phone camera (Project Almanac)! Unfriended is worth seeing for the way the movie is shot, but it’s plot lacks real depth and human interaction, which doesn’t make it a stand out in the horror/thriller genre.
Review by Mark Mackay
Screening Courtesy of Universal Pictures