“Unfriended”: A Retro Halloween Movie Review

Unfriended: A Retro Halloween Movie Review

Sarah Navidad, Student Reporter

What would you think would be a good horror movie to watch for Halloween? You might be watching the horror movie online, on your laptop. But what if the horror movie involved being online and your laptop? Some of the beauty of good horror movies is their ability take everyday things or events and turn them into nightmares. This is the beauty of movies like “Unfriended”, which preys upon our common use of computers and ever growing connection online.

The 2014 supernatural horror movie “Unfriended” was created by Timur Bekmambetov and Levan Gabriadze. The movie is unique in that the whole movie was filmed entirely on a computer screen, being produced in the so called “Screen Life format”. The movie had its world premiere on July 20, 2014, at the Fantasia Festival, and on April 17, 2015, Universal Pictures distributed it in theaters in the US. Although critics gave the movie varying ratings, it was a huge box office hit, making $62 million on a $1 million budget. The movie was popular enough to spawn a sequel, “Unfriended: Dark Web, which was published in 2018.

The plot centers around a high school girl, Laura Barns, who shoots herself in the head after an unidentified user posts a video showing her passing out and urinating at a party. The video quickly gains popularity, resulting in Laura’s decision. Blaire Lily, who was once Laura’s childhood best friend, and her boyfriend, Mitch Roussel, are talking on Skype one year later, when they decide to become sexually active on prom night. Jess Felton, Ken Smith, and Adam Sewell, who are also their pals and classmates, soon join them on skype. Then, an anonymous user “Billie227” unexpectedly joins the group chat. The pals continue talking, assuming it’s just a technical hiccup, until Blaire starts getting messages from someone posing as the deceased Laura Barns. The unknown user starts to scare them by threating them to spill the groups most personal secrets to make them all fall apart and hate each other. In the end, the darkest secrets and lies of Blaire’s pals must be faced as she attempts to reveal the unknown identity of “Billie227”.

Most of the reviews of the movie, at the time of release, focused on the disappointment that movie took place only the computer and denounced the movie’s “basic plot”. Others said it was a “unique but flawed one-room drama”. Another point of view exists that people did enjoy the movie, accepting that we are in a new generation where technology is what everyone knows and how “Unfriended” is focused on how everyone connects and functions in the digital age, most notably the younger generations.

In my personal opinion, I loved the movie. However, I do agree that the whole storyline could have been more in depth. I think there should have been more detail on “Laura” killing herself because of an embarrassing video and being bullied, as her death is major plot point that causes the hack into the teenagers group chat. Movie essentially becomes a game they are all playing to survive. If they lie, they end up harming themselves through their screens without the wanting to do it.

Even though the entire movie is on a computer screen I enjoyed watching it. It’s fantastic how the movie transforms the behaviors of automatic web browsing into new formats for explanatory and psychological information delivery. So, watch out for that notification. You may have just been “Unfriended”.