Unfriended – Film Review
Starring the girl who died first in Ouija, and presented in the same manner as Open Windows, comes a movie that raises the question: is a ghost serial killer more or less important than having a fight about infidelity with your high school boyfriend?
The answer won’t make you happy.
TL;DR Much like Open Windows, Unfriended proves that the format of an “all on your laptop screen” horror movie can work. But Unfriended doesn’t even bother to try serving a super hacker spy mystery, and instead settles for a thrill-less slasher with not a likeable character in sight. And, even more insultingly, a banal message about the evils of our technologically-obsessed youth. Fuck off. 1 out of 5 stars.
But this piece of shit made money, so we can look forward to more in the laptop found footage horror genre. Because found footage horror movies weren’t strained enough already.
The plot focuses on Blaire (Shelley Hennig), a girl whose best friend, Laura Barns, killed herself after an embarrassing video of her was posted online and she was relentlessly cyber bullied. We join Blaire and her group of friends on a night where they begin to receive mysterious messages from Laura, and are eventually sucked into a deadly game of revenge. It is gradually revealed that each of the friends (Blaire; her boyfriend, Mitch; a blonde girl; a fat guy; a jock guy; and Val, the one nobody likes) is a horrible cunt of a person, and they all contributed in some way to Laura’s humiliation. Laura dispatches them one by one; in-fighting causes unnecessary turmoil, and death; and then it’s finally revealed that the one who took the offending video was none other than aspiring Karma Houdini Blaire. Laura uses social media to out Blaire as the backstabbing byotch she is, and then kills her off, too.
Back to Teen Wolf hell for you, Shelley.
Unfriended does absolutely nothing new for the slasher genre outside of its presentation gimmick. None of the kills are memorable, and none of the characters are memorable.
And, in a desperate effort to seem relevant, Unfriended tries to play the “this is all a lesson about bullying” card. But I don’t know. If Laura was such an epic fuck knuckle that she would murder her friends, then I don’t really feel bad that she killed herself.
So it’s okay for Laura to be a drunk dickhead at a party. Sympathetic, even. But if Blaire is also a drunk dickhead and films Laura, that’s not okay?
I ain’t got time for hypocritical ghost killers.
Why I hate this movie:
Seriously, though. Blaire isn’t the one who uploaded the video. It’s implied that she showed it to Mitch, who then took it upon himself to upload the video, but still. All Blaire did was act stupid while drunk and show a funny video to her boyfriend.
It is also revealed that all of the friends joined in the chorus of Internet commenters telling Laura to kill herself. Using false screen names, of course. Because that’s what kids do these days, right? It’s only very briefly chucked in, I expect, to ward off misers like me who don’t think Blaire was that bad. Even Laura isn’t really that hard on them about it, though. She just brings it up quickly, and then moves on to more pressing issues. Like making Blaire and Mitch fight because Blaire banged the jock guy a couple of times.
Yes, the absolute dumbest part of an already dumb as rocks movie occurs near the tail end of the Never Have I Ever game (we call it “I’ve Never” where I’m from, but whatever). Laura reveals that Blaire, supposedly saving her virginity for Mitch on prom night, actually fucked Jock one time while drunk. And then again while sober. This does not make Mitch very happy. Because when you and your friends are getting graphically murdered by an unstoppable ghost, it’s the perfect time to be jealous about your amoral girlfriend having sex with your amoral best friend.
Things get knocked up to unfathomably stupid heights when Laura secretly sends Blaire and Jock each a message stating that if they reveal this message, then the other will die. Mitchy-moo, already on his screaming trip about the infidelity, forces them to show this secret message, under threat of leaving the game, and therefore automatically getting himself killed. What. The. Actual. Fuck?
Things skyrocket to even higher planes of “did this really make it into a studio movie?” when Blaire reveals her note, causing Laura to kill Jock. She did this to save Mitch. Okay, maybe I was wrong about Blaire not being a bitch.
This is all exacerbated by much more heinous revelations during Never Have I Ever. Our teens get so caught up in the infidelity scandal that they kind of just brush off the following:
- Blonde having started a rumour that Blaire has an eating disorder;
- Blaire having crashed Blonde’s mum’s car one time;
- Mitch himself indulging in some kissing infidelity with Laura on one occasion;
- Mitch selling Jock out to the police for selling drugs;
- Blonde stealing $800 from Jock (Jock is super chill with this, btw. Jesus);
- Jock having wished that Blonde had died instead of Laura;
- and, the piece de resistance: Jock having roofied and raped a girl, and then forced said girl to get an abortion when she got pregnant from it. Nobody seems particularly bothered by this. Like, what?
When it’s Blonde’s turn to have Laura knocking on her door, Blaire goes onto Chatroulette and tries to recruit someone to call the police for her. In an insane twist, it works. Also, unless I wasn’t paying enough attention, why didn’t Blaire just call the police?
A good slasher movie builds tension by giving its victims the opportunity to escape. That’s why I’m such a proponent of chase scenes. Because your victim tries to fucking escape. But from the very first kill in Unfriended, it’s clear that there is absolutely zero chance of anyone escaping Laura. She’s an omniscient, omnipotent ghost. There’s no tension. She just kills you when she feels like it. Final Destination worked similarly, but made the inspired choice to give Death a plan that can be beaten. There is no way to beat Laura. It’s boring.
The ending reveals that we’ve been seeing everything on Blaire’s laptop screen, from Blair’s POV. But we never hear Blaire talk to herself, which I found odd. I think the movie probably didn’t do it to reduce confusion, but I know I’d be talking to myself heaps in that situation.
After Laura has killed everyone except Blaire, she posts the extended Drunken Night video online, which shows everyone that Blaire is the one who recorded it. Comments immediately start pouring in about how fucking evil Blaire is. But, instead of having Blaire live as a pariah who precipitated her best friend’s suicide, Laura’s ghost then just kills Blaire, too. Wasteful.
Oh, and Laura’s MO is almost the same as the ghost from Ouija, with the forced suicide thing. Blech.
But it’s not all bad:
At least they all die.
I still like Shelley Hennig, despite her continuing track record of not being in anything to be proud of. It’ll come one day. I’m sure of it.
The kills aren’t memorable, but a couple of them are cute enough. Fat Friend puts his hand into a blender, and then puts his neck onto the blender blades. I appreciated it. And Blonde gets a curling iron to the throat. I’ll take a blowjob joke any day.
The obvious solution of the teens just closing their computers and calling the police is addressed. Val tries that and ends up as the first to die, so.
The laptop screen format mostly leans on the Skype thing, but there is one time that it’s used to interesting effect. Blaire, in private text chat to Mitch, attempts to explain that Laura was going through some tough stuff, and wasn’t just a suicidal brat. She types in a couple of attempts to tell him about some abusive uncle Laura had, but eventually just gives him a vague allusion to family issues. This excellently shows some character information for Laura, but also is a tight way of learning about Blaire through her approach to Mitch. That was a pleasant surprise.
Unlike MTV’s Scream, Unfriended actually paid for the licence rights for YouTube, Skype etc.
Oh, and the Drunken Night video turns out to be really fucking mean. Much meaner than I thought. Early on, we just see a drunk Laura doing body shots and being typical white girl wasted. But the full video shows that Blaire filmed her while she was passed out, had pissed herself, and had shit herself, too. That’s rough. Like, big, solid, grimy poo just chilling around her panties. That sucks, man.
This movie sucks, too, man. 1 out of 5 stars.