STRAIGHT OFF THE BAT, I should declare that I’m not a big fan of found footage horror.
Don’t get me wrong, when it’s done right, it can be executed really well ala [REC], or The Tunnel, but more often than not, it doesn’t quite hit the mark for me.
And i’s fast becoming a stale genre in my book.
Despite this, Unfriended falls strangely on middle ground.
I have to commend the movie for pushing the horror genre into a contemporary setting and placing it where the current generation spend their time – through social media.
By using this format, we are introduced to a small group of friends and our intended victims.
What I also found intriguing and bold about this movie was the subject of this movie too, cyber-bullying.
A modern concept that had its fair amount of repercussions in an environment that has proved hard to police.
As the film opens up, we are given an indication of the movies intent as our protagonist, (If you can call her that) Blaire surfs the net for the death/suicide of Laura Barns, before Blaire then embarks on a cyber chat with her friends, Mitch, Jess, Adam, Ken, and Val.
However, somewhere along the way, someone has hacked into the chat room and from there on in, a series of games come about which antagonises the group and we slowly learn of their involvement in Laura Barn’s downfall, through the cyber-bullying that they played out on her.
One by one the friendships unravel and they are picked off with gruesome and bloody outcomes.
Who is behind these attacks?
Is it one of them, or could it be the spirit of Laura Barns out for revenge?
As I detailed in my intro, my verdict of Unfriended is that it lay in the middle ground and here is my reasoning.
Whilst it does push the horror genre into new and untested territory, and it certainly delivers a clever and insightful approach to this world, where it falls short is in its characterisation.
As we learn more about the friendship group and their secrets and true personalities rise to the surface, the less likeable they become.
Yes, this does make their comeuppance a deserved and relatable one, the preverbal fly in the ointment is that the audience is left not really giving a shit about what happens to these characters.
A massive flaw in my opinion.
You need to have a character that the audience can identify which otherwise the story falls flat and that is where it left me… Deflated and uninterested.
But its success in the box office and pending sequel seems to say otherwise.
I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.
- Paul Farrell