Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Unfriended (Busby's Review)

Haven't wrote a review on here for a GOOOOOOD minute, but after a recent run to the movies, I lightweight felt a little inspired to write a lil something something.  But before I get into that let me just say that for some reason I am a sucker for the "found footage" genre of horror movies.  Ever since I've seen The Blair Witch Project, I've always found the aspect of watching a horror movie through the lens of a camcorder very intriguing.  From the Paranormal Activity franchise, Cloverfield, V/H/S, Chronicle, and many others.  The found footage genre has evolved through the years and has showcased new aspects of the first person view of a horror movie.  Unfriended showcases a new aspect of telling a ghost story through a first person viewpoint.  However this time it's through the internet.  Which brings me to this new evolution of the genre with the film Unfriended.

Unfriended tells the story of a young teenage girl named Laura Barnes (Heather Sossaman) who became a victim of severe cyberbulling after an embarrassing video gets posted on YouTube that drove her to commit a violent suicide in public (which was also filmed and uploaded to Liveleek).  A year later, Laura's "good friends" Blaire (Shelley Hennig), Blaire's boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), the valley girl airhead Jess (Renee Olstead), the very blunt spoken Val (Courtney Halverson), the sarcastic tech-geek Ken (Jacob Mysocki) and the alcoholic hot-head Adam (Will Peltz) all gather together for their nighty Skype chat.  However this time they have a mysterious user that has joined in on the chat that is looking to make their night a living hell.

The web cam-less user "billie227" is revealed to be non other then the vengeful spirit of Laura Barnes.  In a span of one hour, the ghostly troll whacks supernatual havoc on all her former friends via their cyber connection and plays sinister games with them in order to pull out dark secrets about what lead to her suicide.  This then causes the friends to turn on each other and causes a domino effect of pain, shame, and even death.  By the time this particular chat is over, the group of friends will be suffering the same fate Laura had just 1 year prior.

Going into this movie, I honesty thought this movie was going to suck.  Shockingly, I enjoyed this film a lot more then I thought I would.  It does an excellent job telling the story for the young social media generation of today and does it in a way that only they can understand.  By using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and many others to drive the story.  Newcomer director Levan Gabriadze does a noteworthy job on creating an accurate atmosphere of teen social life on the internet.  Even down to details like the real life Skype and Facebook notification sounds, the delay in video during the Skype chat, the music they listen to, and many more details that only a web savvy young person could understand. This movie did a great job on creating tension within all those aspects.  I will admit that it did jack the same concept that the movie The Den had in 2013, but I feel that Unfriended made the concept a whole lot better.

For starters, unlike The Den, this entire film takes place on Blaire's Macbook in span of one hour.  How you know this is because the clock in the upper right hand corner is accurately ticking in real time.  On top of that, the entire movie takes place on their web cams and they are barely any cutaways from the characters unless Blaire brings up a website, chatting on her instant messenger, or the death of a certain character.  The main cast of young actors did a great job at holding their own for the duration of the 70 minute film. 

From what I understand, they filmed the entire movie in a series long shots, and the editing team just edited everything together based on the actor's performances.  Now that's quite the accomplishment if you ask me because there were so many layers they had to build around.  When you watch the film all the way it goes by so smoothly you don't even notice.  Kudos to the editing team on that.

Even though there isn't any legit jump scares (until the very last shot), the slow tension it builds is really unsettling.  Especially when "Laura" does her countdown for the impending doom on one of the characters.  You, along with the characters, don't know whats going to happen or how they are going to die.  But when Laura finally reaches zero it leads to unsettling results.  The death scenes are pretty damn gruesome and hauntingly disturbing.  It does a noteworthy job on keeping the viewer's eyes glued to the screen to see what happens next all the way to the nerve rattling finale. When this movie becomes available for purchase in the next few months, I highly recommend watching this on your laptop to get the full experience.

All in all Unfriended is a very entertaining but yet disturbing movie to watch.  It's a nice ghost story for the young internet generation to enjoy and I truly believe that it will be remembered for a long time to come.  It's also another example on the evolution of the "found footage" genre of horror cinema.

Busby's Review: 4/5

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