This movie reminded me of a recent episode of ‘Modern Family’ called ‘Connection Lost’ (from season six). That episode was shot entirely through what was being seen on Claire’s (Julie Bowen) laptop screen. It showed her surfing the web, using FaceTime, iMessage and whatnot. In ‘Unfriended’, we only get to see what’s going on through what is being shown on the movies main characters laptop screen. We see that character, which is Blaire (Shelley Hennig), using Facebook, YouTube, Skype and whatnot. So that recent great ‘Modern Family’ episode came to mind while I was watching it. Unfortunately, ‘Unfriended’ can’t be stamped with that same “great” tag too.
A group of friends decide to have one of their usual Skype video chat sessions but they are joined by a mysterious account to the confusion of the group. After trying to get rid of the so-called “glitch” to no avail, the account tries to scare the friends into giving up secrets dealing with the suicide of one of their classmates, Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), and themselves. If they decide not to listen and play along then…well…their life will automatically log off from the alive side of the world with no plans of logging back again. Man that was so darn clever.
Yeah, I Liked That
‘Unfriended’ had an interesting concept to build off of so that’s a good starting point right there. This era can really relate to seeing everything play-out on a laptop screen because that’s where peoples eyes are usually at anyway. I’m looking at my laptop now…well because I have to, to type these lovely words that you are reading right now but I would still be looking at it even if I wasn’t typing this because I’m lost without my laptop. The world just doesn’t make sense without it. Alright, I’m just kidding but seriously I’m always on this thing. Anyways, back to the subject at hand, so yeah ‘Unfriended’ had an interesting concept going for it so it already had a positive before the movie even started.
Now lets move onto what’s actually in the movie. For a “scary” movie, my favorite part wasn’t the scares or anything along that line. It was actually the banter amongst the movies group of characters. Whether they were just joking around with each other, yelling at each other, calling each other vulgar names that I don’t feel comfortable saying right here, or accusing each other of posting the video that drives this whole movie, it was all hysterical. That might of been the movies intention or it might not of but it doesn’t matter to me because I was laughing regardless. I think what made it funnier was the fact that teenagers really do act all ridiculous like the way the characters were acting in the movie (if you’re a teenage, please don’t get all offended). And then throw a tense situation on top of it, I know they would all be freaking out, acting all on edge and pointing the finger at everyone but themselves. So kudos to ‘Unfriended’ for hitting the nail on the head of the mannerisms of an on edge, distraught teen.
Staying on the subject of the funny teen banter, my favorite specific part of the movie was when some of the friends played the game “Never Have I Ever”. If you’ve never heard of the game or never played it (which I hope is no one), I’m not in the mood to explain it right here so use your good ol’ friend Google for the answers. Anyways, the game came at a point in the movie where a couple characters have already died so the friends that are left are pretty terrified now. So the scared teens make for a hilarious game that is being conducted by the mysterious account. During the game, the account gets each friend to reveal secrets to the others that they never planned for the others to find out about. The reactions to these reveals are priceless. The anger that comes out the characters during this game quickly turns to over-the-top and makes for pure entertainment. I enjoyed this part of the movie so much that I feel I could watch a whole movie over that game…maybe.
For ‘Unfriended’ to be a “scary” movie, I haven’t talked about anything regarding it being “scary” yet. Well that’s because it wasn’t scary to me at all but it did do a good job creating a tense atmosphere. If you’re a scary movie and you’re not going to scare me or make me jump (which movies don’t really do. I haven’t seen a movie that scared me since ‘The Sixth Sense’ and that’s because I saw it when I was really young, at night while sitting in the dark. I guess my mom thought that was a great idea), at least try to give me some goosebumps or make things feel a little tense. ‘Unfriended’ couldn’t give the goosebumps, but like I said, it did create a tense atmosphere. While watching the movie I found myself wondering who actually posted the video, who is running the mysterious account, and if someone is going to appear in the corner of someones little video chat screen (or whatever they’re called). All that on top of the dark vibe in the movie makes for a tense atmosphere.
Yeah, I Didn’t Like That
I just got done talking about the tense atmosphere ‘Unfriended’ created but I also mentioned that’s the least it could of done since it didn’t create a scary or super creepy environment. Many “scary” movies are guilty of the same thing so I’m not going to go in on ‘Unfriended’. They know they didn’t succeed in that area so we can move on. I will talk about the sub-par kills in the movie. I understand that some “scary” movies don’t have much violence and that’s cool. You don’t need violence to be scary and sometimes the movie doesn’t even call for it. But when you’re a rated R movie that is only rated R for basically “language” but you have some kills in there then you might as well bring some effort to the table. ‘Unfriended’ clearly didn’t try too hard because its kills were lazy and weak. I’m not going to spoil the actually kills themselves but you’ll get it. I mean the ones that are the most creative play-out in a lazy manner. Take the blender scene that is shown in the trailers. When you see the trailer, you probably thought (like I did) that there was a lot more more to the scene, you know maybe some grotesque violence or something…Nope. A potentially interesting kill ends up being a complete let down. I know I sound crazy to be crying over someone not dying cool enough at the hands of a blender but someone has to do it.
Enough of those mediocre kills (that can probably be blamed on that tiny budget it has. typical Blumhouse Productions). Let’s talk about the bad acting that runs rampant. Earlier I said that the movie did a good job depicting how teenagers would act in a scary situation but that doesn’t mean the acting isn’t bad. I didn’t expect it to be good but I still feel I have to bring it up. Yeah the characters were funny but the actors playing them just couldn’t act this time around. Renee Olstead, who plays Jess in the movie, is my girl (thanks to her starring in one of my guilty pleasure shows, ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’) but I got to admit that she can’t really act and she showed it. The biggest culprit, thought, is Moses Jacob Storm (a guy who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page), who plays Mitch. He was the clear head bad actor of the bunch. When he was delivering his lines in a laid back tone everything was fine but when he got to yelling and trying to show any type of emotion, that’s when things got bad. He just wasn’t believable when he tried to show any feelings. His bad acting was probably what made those funny angry moments even funnier. Found myself looking at the screen like “Look at this guy trying to play an upset person, HA! Good one.”
‘Unfriended’ was entertaining for a one time watch but it’s no where near strong enough to have that long lasting feel. This seems to be the case for a lot of Blumhouse movies (not named ‘Insidious’). I feel it’s flaws would become even more noticeable if I gave it another chance and I’m willing to do that with the help of Netflix, Redbox or something.
RATING: Might Rent
P.S. Once again here is my rating scale. There are four different levels. Below is each level in order from best to worse and what each one means.
Must Own = A movie that is so good that I must add it to my Blu-ray collection when it comes out.
Would Accept as a Gift = I enjoyed the movie but don’t necessarily have to buy it (especially if I don’t have the funds to) myself but I would take it if someone bought it for me.
Might Rent = A movie that if I have the urge to watch again then I’ll just rent it from somewhere or Netflix it.
Never See Again = Very simple. I don’t want to ever see this movie again.
(Photo Credit: Ryan Sanderson – http://minnesotaconnected.com/arts-entertainment/movie-review-unfriended_521325/; Alonso Duralde – http://www.thewrap.com/unfriended-review-cyberbullying-youtube-horror-timur-bekmambetov/; Ollie.Charles – http://www.frontrowreviews.co.uk/reviews/unfriended-review/33503)