Standard Issue’s newest film reviewer Day Moibi checks out the latest addition to the ‘lost footage’ horror genre, Unfriended.
High school student Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) commits suicide when an embarrassing video is posted online after a drunken night. On the anniversary of her death, some of her friends – six of the most stereotypical, unlikable and spoilt characters ever seen in cinema – are Skyping when a mysterious visitor, who appears to be Laura, joins their conversation. Horror films usually leave me tucked over in my seat, wishing never to return outside, but the lack of chill and creepiness in this modern take on the ghost horror genre is laughable. It manages to be both dull and aggravating, never moving past a stifling fixation on trying to capture the lives of teenagers in the modern age.
First-time director Levan Gabriadze confines the action to the POV of a laptop belonging to Laura’s friend Blaire. Yet although he does a great job of maintaining this niche style, it eventually becomes boring. The obvious advertising of Skype, Facebook and Apple makes it unclear whether Unfriended is trying to expose the consumerist attitude that is forced upon modern youth culture or simply replicate the one-dimensional life that appears to overwhelm the majority of my generation.
The film relies upon the false perception that all young people are dependent on instant messaging and webcams. The condescending format results in slow-build-ups and fast, unrealistic, grim deaths. Such contrived set-ups do not add up to anything more than cheap screenshots in what could be a supermarket bargain-bin horror movie at best.
Unfriended does, however, show the dangers of cyber-bullying and casts a stark reflection of our obsession with remembering every detail of our lives. The obvious attempts to appeal to the social media generation are far from the most patronising part of the movie. That award goes to screenwriter Nelson Greaves who leaves no mystery with his template ‘do not answer messages from the dead’ advice webpage bestowed upon our young victims.
Although 70 minutes out of the 81-minute running time are spent perpetuating the notion that all young people are self-absorbed, dim-witted technology addicts, the actors deserve applause for their sincere attempts at bringing terrifying moments to the screen. Nevertheless, the disastrous clichés of high-school life and superficial friendships were hard to swallow.
If you’re looking for a silly night out with friends, this could be half-fun.
Diane Spencer has Rated or Dated classic ‘found footage’ horror film The Blair Witch Project. You can read it here: http://standardissuemagazine.com/arts/rated-or-dated-the-blair-witch-project3362 Views
Day Moibi is an aspiring philosopher who spends most of her time thinking about cheese, the absurdities of life and film.