It’s easy to classify “Unfriended” as a contemporary spin-off of all classic horror films, because that’s essentially what it is.
Despite the film’s hype across the web, the paradigmatic storyline combined with the sense of “connection” the Internet offers was what made viewers prepare for extreme disappointment. If executed in the wrong way, the film would most likely be deemed terrible.
The entire premise of the film is exhaustively unoriginal: The night a year after a teenage girl commits suicide as a result of excessive cyberbullying, her cyber-spirit stalks a group of her high school friends who were possibly involved.
Although the plot is flawed, “Unfriended” stands out from the rest of horror flicks because it completely pinpoints the media culture the current generation is immersed in.
The entire movie unfolds before viewers on one character’s computer screen over many Internet platforms with the webcam service, Skype, as the primary one.
In the opening scene, a YouTube video of Laura Barn’s suicide opened on a computer screen. Whoever is watching the video clicked on suggested link that may reveal why Barns (Heather Sossaman, “Beverly Hills, 90210”) killed herself.
The user’s Internet search is interrupted by a Skype call, and then the audience is immediately introduced to all the characters and the story wastes no time in delving into the connection between Laura and the rest of the group.
The film unfolds on the computer screen when Blaire (Shelley Hennig, “Teen Wolf”) is revealed as the main user when she accepts the interrupted Skype call. Throughout the 82 minutes of the film, all of Blaire’s computer activity is viewed simultaneously between the Skype video call, private instant messages with her boyfriend, Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm, “Correcting Christmas”), internet searches on Laura on Google and listening to music on Spotify among other familiar routines related to teenagers’ impeccable ability to multitask.
The attention to detail with the way the computer is navigated in the film is what makes it near-impossible to look away. The usual sudden scares and occasional gory moments were carefully placed in the sequence that made it harder for the audience to avoid.
For instance, many could relate when Blaire typed something when searching the Internet or instant messaging before deleting it and type something entirely different.
One can sense the sheer panic she felt when Mitch didn’t reply to her quickly, or the frustration when she cannot click on a link or a simple computer function in which she clicks back to the Skype call window to ask one of her friends for help.
For teenagers and young adults, or anyone else Internet and social media savvy, the combination of these subtle moments add an entire new parallel of relatability that renders the film engaging, entertaining, and astonishingly effective.