Main cast: Shelley Hennig (Blaire Lily), Moses Jacob Storm (Mitch Roussel), Renee Olstead (Jess Felton), Will Peltz (Adam Sewell), Jacob Wysocki (Ken Smith), Courtney Halverson (Val Rommel), and Heather Sossaman (Laura Barns)
Director: Leo Gabriadze
I avoided Unfriended when it first hit the screens because I was going through my allergic-to-found-footage phase. Still, with a sequel out at the moment, I figure I may as well take a look at it. Well, it isn’t bad, thankfully. Perhaps this is because the format itself is a novelty. Instead of some annoying janky cam held by some idiot who is too stupid to drop that thing and run like any sane person would, this one is “told” through a nearly entirely first person view from Blaire Lily’s MacBook screen.Yes, we see her using the web, talking to her friends on Skype, checking out Facebook, and such, and we also see that angry vengeful teenage girl ghosts are now smart enough to use these things to terrorize others.
Laura Barns, a friend of Blaire, recently shot herself after a video of her all passed out with her soiled underpants in full display was posted on YouTube. That video of her introducing a new hole at the back of her head is also up on some website, and perhaps understandably, Blaire is visiting these places when the movie opens out of a macabre kind of fascination. She claims to know Laura from way back, after all. Never mind, she decides to Skype her boyfriend Mitch, and announces that she’d like to finally lose her virginity to him on prom night. They are about to do some naughty online chat when they are interrupted by their friends, the jock Adam, the sarcastic blonde Jess, and the token fatty Ken. And then… there is a mysterious fellow, “billie227”, whose ID Blaire looks up and discovers to be apparently that of Laura’s. They think another friend, Val, is playing a trick on them, and get her to join them on Skype.
Oops, she isn’t the unwanted tagalong – billie227 is clearly someone else, and worse, she wants to play a deadly game of Never Have I Ever with them even as one by one these kids meet a bad end. Is it because they had all pissed off Laura when she was alive?
Unfriended, apparently, wants to make some kind of statement about how cruel kids can be when it comes to social media, but frankly, it’s hard to sympathize with Laura when she rains terror and death in a far more cruel and disproportionate manner compared to whatever crimes she imagined they did to her when she was alive. A more appropriate message here would be to be a little more discreet and practice some moderation when it comes to filming yourself drinking and making whoopee, but I supposed being accountable for your own actions is so not in fashion any more.
Back to this movie, it is watchable, mostly because of how the entire movie comes together in an unexpectedly coherent and enjoyable manner despite its unorthodox footage found format. Strip away the novelty factor, however, and I will get a very derivative and clichéd movie about teenage stereotypes doing dumb things and getting killed because of this. Blaire is probably the most well-drawn character of the lot, because she is the only one given more to do than just scowling at the screen and yelling, but even then, she’s still on the flat side. Of note is Moses Jacob Storm, who seems capable of expressing only one facial expression regardless of the context of the scene: a blank scowl. He could very well be an emoji on the screen, given how lively he is.
Watch Unfriended for the novelty factor, but tone down expectations to reduce any impending sense of disappointment.