What You Need To Know:
UNFRIENDED has an innovative style, but suffers from almost nonstop obscenities and a paper thin script involving the occult. The movie shows briefly depicted, but graphic, violent deaths. Sordid tales of lying, cheating, deceit, double-crossing, back stabbing and immoral sex also surface as the plot progresses. Furthermore, UNFRIENDED gives credit to the occult, rather than God, for exacting justice. Ultimately, therefore, it fails to present a redemptive message of repentance and forgiveness. Media-wise viewers will find UNFRIENDED unacceptable viewing.
(PaPaPa, HH, OOO, B, LLL, VVV, S, NN, AA, MM) Very strong mixed pagan worldview with humanist, hedonistic characters being menaced by an apparent ghost, including occult supernatural means are used to exact justice, with some moral elements; nearly 100 obscenities (mostly “f” words) and at least two profanities; very strong violence includes brief but graphic depictions of characters’ mysterious deaths from common household items, and teenage girl is shown turning gun on herself and committing suicide; implied sexual activity and crude sexually suggestive dialogue; partial nudity showing a scantily clad male and female; underage alcohol use; no smoking or drug use; and strong miscellaneous immorality includes lying, bullying humiliation, and revenge, including people spread online a video of teenage girl passed out and having soiled her pants.
The screening to UNFRIENDED didn’t seem to get off to a good start when less than 10 minutes into the movie a patron stomped out of the theater stating in a loud voice that he would rather be watching paint dry on the wall. Well, it wasn’t that bad, but pretty close.
The story of UNFRIENDED is simple enough. A group of six teenage friends are in the habit of getting together on a regular basis to chat via Skype from their home computers. They were all friends with Laura Barnes (Heather Sossaman), who committed suicide the year because a video was posted on YouTube showing Laura passed out, with her pants soiled.
Exactly one year after Laura’s death, the six friends, Blaire (Shelley Hennig), Matt (Matthew Bohrer), Val (Courtney Halverson), Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), Adam (Will Peltz), and Jess (Renee Olstead), get together online to chat as usual. As the chat begins, they are suddenly joined by a faceless new guest. At first, the six take the intrusion as an annoying human glitch, and try to “unfriend” it, but they don’t succeed.
As the level of their discussion about how to deal with this online irritation increases, and their frustration grows, the uninvited guest reveals her name. She claims to be Laura Barnes, their dead friend. Of course, the befuddled Skypers don’t accept this at first. They again try various techniques to remove the intruder.
Just when they seem to have achieved their goal to rid of the bad joker, the situation takes a turn for the worse. Laura, or whoever is impersonating her, seems to have gained total control over all their computers. Against their best efforts, now each one of the teenagers is being threatened with death unless they start playing games designed to reveal their ugliest personal secrets.
The cinematic technique behind UNFRIENDED is reminiscent of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. The movie’s entirely shot through the computer screen. In and of itself, this technique is creative, especially for today’s tech-savvy computer generation. However, showing Laura committing suicide by pointing a gun at herself as if she was taking a selfie rather than pointing it at her temple was a bit of a stretch.
A cardinal sin in horror movies is for the movie not to be scary. UNFRIENDED tries hard to generate some chills, but without much success. It does provoke a number of most likely unintended laughs, however.
Yet another problem is that the movie suffers from a paper thin script. This results in a plot much too sketchy to add any plausibility or credibility to the cruel actions of the characters, including the responsibility they had in driving their friend to suicide. Undoubtedly, trying to show a full length drama via Skype and instant messaging presents its own challenges. However, UNFRIENDED has so many dialogue and story gaps from one scene to another that the movie’s failure in execution probably lies with the director and scriptwriter, rather than the technical limitations of the technique chosen to tell this particular story.
The fairly successful FINAL DESTINATION series gave death by unconventional means a whole new dimension. UNFRIENDED seems trying to imitate that style, but fails miserably. Like the FINAL DESTINATION movies, it turns the various deaths into very brief gruesome occurrences, but devoid of any technical or creative quality.
Given what they had, the actors give professional performances, especially Shelley Hennig as Blaire. Sadly, though, their performances are overwhelmed by foul language, with the “F” bomb uttered by all characters almost nonstop.
All in all, UNFRIENDED’s story is presented in an interesting format, but the movie fails in its main job, which is to entertain. Also, besides the graphic violence and abundant foul language, the movie gives credit to the occult, rather than God, for exacting justice, and lacks a redemptive message of repentance and forgiveness. Media-wise viewers will find UNFRIENDED unacceptable viewing.