Unfriended – Review


Yes, I have a certain disdain for found footage, I definitely don’t like sub-genre, in fact I’m growing to really despise it, but the studios love them because you don’t need to hire any major actors to play any of the roles in most cases and they are very cheap to make and often will make back most of their money. From the look of it, this year is not going to see much of a decline in the sub-genre between this and the previously released Project Almanac which you will be surprised to find out “I didn’t like’!! Unfriended is probably a film you are probably aware of because if you have been on You Tube regularly the film is being advertised massively on that site, mainly because they actually do get a product placement in the film. When I heard the concept for this film I literally thought this was one of the stupidest ideas for a film I have ever heard and it couldn’t possibly work! But I was prepared to give it a shot especially on the basis of the fact it is getting very mixed reviews from the States so I expected a sense of indifference. That being said I went to the film with low expectations and I can tell you immediately, this review is probably going to be shorter and less detailed than most of my usual reviews, not because I’m getting lazy, just because there isn’t much content in this film.

In the summer of 2013 (forgive me if I have got that fact wrong, I really wasn’t paying attention to the timings on the videos in the film) Laura Barnes commits suicide after an embarrassing video is leaked on the internet and she is the subject of a cyber bullying campaign. Now a year later a group of her friends are having an online chat on SKYPE, but someone has hacked into their conversation with Laura’s account and is demanding revenge by picking them off one by one. If you saw the trailer for this film, well I’m sorry to say ‘you have seen a lot of this film’!! There is seriously very little outside of what’s in the trailer, in fact a lot of the kill shots are exactly as they appear in the trailer (they are actually editied that badly), the final product makes these scenes look like they were specifically cut in that fashion. This is even more surprising considering that this film only lasts 80 minutes, which is staggeringly short, in fact it barely qualifies as a theatrical release and I was amazed I was paying full price for my ticket!! Now found footage is a relatively cheap production, but I’ve got to believe that this was even cheaper considering the entire film was short virtually on web cams and using computer screen to drive the plot (in fact the film’s total budget was $1,000,000) and I thought this would actually be an interesting way of monitoring communication between the characters, however it doesn’t pull this off, in fact if anything, it actually makes things worse. Because some of the communication is done through text rather than dialogue, there is no emotion to it and as a result it doesn’t help build any tension which is what you need in a ‘horror movie’. For example the film I saw earlier this year “It Follows” was brilliant at building tension and giving us likeable characters who we would want to see come out alive at the end. Not in this film!! I wanted these guys to die five minutes after being introduced to them they were that irritating and unlikeable and they get worse!! In fact that was one of the major problems, the film is so slowly paced I don’t think that anything happens until a quarter of the way through the movie, which again considering that this film is barely a theatrical release is baffling! Why pace it this badly!! These characters are incredibly un-likeable and the performances of the actors don’t help it out at all. In fact I’m not even going to bother with an acting section in this review because I have nothing to say on the subject. They are all just awful, they are not named actors so you don’t care who they are and after this you won’t care to see them in anything else!! I was just saying to myself “for the love of god, get to the scene where these characters die already, I’m bored out of my skull listening to their inane chatter”. You could have gotten away with characters like these in the 80’s which is definitely the period of horror movies that I enjoy, but we are in 2015 now and films like The Babadook and “It Follows” are proof you need more likeable characters and clever plots now in order to make your horror film worth watching. This one doesn’t have either, it’s purely riding on the concept, which I will clearly admit is unique, but it means nothing as I just didn’t care and if you are not familiar with text speak you might struggle to figure out some of the words typed in this film, don’t worry though as there is actual dialogue. The dialogue during the SKYPE conversation was also laughably bad, this isn’t how young people talk! This is how a screen writer believes young people talk and is again further added to the “please let these people die soon so I can get out of the theatre” effect.

The film plays on an idea of possession, mainly through the hacked accounts and the method of the deaths, but we never are really given much of an explanation in to it and if you can’t see ‘quote on quote plot twist coming’ then I’m guessing, like me, you were bored as well and weren’t paying attention because it is ‘really ‘obvious, especially considering the order in which everyone is being picked off. The film tries to throw a few red herrings in there, but none of them work and I’m just saying, “it’s obviously this person so can we please get on with it, this game is boring you’re not scary”. The film tries to give a few jump scares every now and again and only the one at the very end of the film half works though is still bafflingly out of place in the film considering everything we had seen leading up to it. You would find it much more scary playing a marathon of “Five Nights At Freddie’s”, at least in that one, the jump scares actually scare you. This film didn’t have to be a dumb horror film it could have been an interesting take on our modern internet culture and at times it even seems like it is going for that route but the variety is so poor in everything else it almost seems like this has been an accidental and the cyber bullying angle is completely lost by the end. I will give one positive to the writing, it does actually give an excuse of why the camera is still rolling!!

The major problems with found footage movies, particularly found footage horror movies, is that there is not real reason for the characters to still be filming this on their own camera. You are almost screaming at the screen “stop filming this and help your friends out that are being killed”!!! It does fall into a few of the traps that found footage films fall into including the shaky cam, although that is only when the characters get up and walk with the web cams which rarely happens and is only really used for a few of the deaths. Like the fact that I had a problem commenting on this films acting, I can’t really comment on it’s cinematography or aesthetics that much because the whole thing takes place on computer screens so there is no camera shot or anything like that. Let’s just say this film seems laughably cheap and I think a lot of the internet references could potentially date the film horribly, especially considering that sites and programmes are updating themselves quicker than ever before. We could be using a completely different communication system from SKYPE in the future which will date the film horribly and You Tube and Facebook could look completely different in their page designs. The kill shots are also laughably bad! The film does a constant thing of making the cameras go out of flux as if the web cam itself is failing, almost like when you are trying to stream a video online that is not fully loading properly. It actually ends up annoying you and and is clearly trailer fodder. The kill shots are all laughably bad, they are terribly edited and it’s very apparent that half the text conversations between two of the characters via emails and messaging services are purely there so the actors can get into place so they don’t have to shoot the film in one take.

The film makers also don’t fully understand how a lot of the technology works, which was also a problem with ‘Project Almanac” in the fact that there were several camera shots taken at a distance on a home recording camera yet you would hear the characters dialogue perfectly, which doesn’t work unless the characters have a microphone attached to them! This one had a similar problem where characters would be working on another webpage whilst the SKYPE conversation was still going on, you weren’t able to hear the SKYPE conversation in the background. That’s not how that works!! Not only that, the film comes up with really cheap ways for the plot to keep going, for example the ability to forward an email is taken away by the thing that’s going after them and the artificial ways for the characters to have conflicts between each other to pad the film out longer at the end. This doesn’t make me want to see any of them come out alive even more, in fact I want to see them die even quicker, these are horrible people. Please for goodness sake let me out of this film, I don’t want to see anymore!

I’m sorry this review is short but there is nothing more for me to say. This movie sucked and I hated it!! The characters were terrible. The plot is contrived and boring. So poorly shot, so poorly directed and so poorly written and it didn’t have to be any of those. This film has been billed as the next ‘Blair Witch’ or ‘Paranormal Activity’ but those films didn’t aim to be phenomenon’s they were more accidental and based on word of mouth. This film is clearly trying too hard and I think it will be forgotten when the new ‘Paranormal Activity’ movie comes out later this year.

It’s another example of why found footage really doesn’t work as a sub-genre of horror and I would really like it to go away for a while and come back with some better ideas. The film leaves no room open for a sequel so hopefully that means we won’t be seeing another one this time next year! One of the few positives points I can say about this film is that is didn’t go with it’s dumber original title of ‘Cyber Natural’, Man that sounds stupid!!

There wasn’t a moment I was enjoying this film. I was bored from start to finish and judging by the people who were in the cinema with me, I don’t think I was alone in that. The only moment I enjoyed was when they played ‘How you Lie, Lie, Lie’ by Connie Conway after one of the characters secrets is revealed on the internet by the thing that is going after them. I was in hysterics! Much to the annoyance of the people around me! Seriously, skip this one, and if you must see it, see it as a rental and get as many of your friends around so they don’t spend money on this rubbish film either. It’s not only one of the worst films I have seen this year so far, this is one of the worst films I have reviewed for the site, if not, THE WORST!

This is the kind of film that’s meant to come out in dumping ground January not May when films start getting good again save your money and see one of the upcoming blockbusters that’s on the horizon

So what were your thoughts on Unfriended. Did you find some more positives than me? Or, am I completely on the money? Please leave something in the comments section if you have any thoughts on it, or on my upcoming question.

Is there a good found footage horror movie? (I want to stress, horror movie, I’m not going to count found footage film’s in other genres, because that would mean the obvious answer,’ Chronicle’ would apply which is the only one I have enjoyed so far).

If you want to submit your own content to our site we have now set up our guest contributor section or you would like to get your own movie review sorted visit our “how to submit section, or our guest contribution section”, we are loving some of the brilliant content we are getting so far and if you get time this weekend, don’t see this lazy piece of rubbish!! See our good friend Dream’s new guest content as he has done a review of the film “The Story of Luke” and he has given us some excellent “musical creations” to listen to, you will have a much better time.

Right. Next time I am going back to Anime. I need something to calm me down from this rubbish! May 15th I’m uploading my review of “Harlock Space Pirate” in 3D and if you want to see it prior to my review it’s available on Blu Ray and DVD right now.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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The Next Axia10th July 2024
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