Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Critic’s corner: ‘unfriended’


    Who would have thought that hitting the ‘unfriend’ button could have such dire consequences?

    Director Levan Gabriadze’s “Unfriended” presents a new and unique storyline of social media horror. Six high school students take part in a video chat a year after one of their classmates, Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), committed suicide. Laura’s spirit takes control of the chat and seeks revenge for the cyberbullying that led to her death.

    The movie begins with high school student Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig), who was once Laura’s best friend, viewing a video of Laura’s suicide. She then clicks a link to see the viral video that prompted Laura’s decision to kill herself when she is interrupted by a video chat from her boyfriend. Soon their friends join in on the chat—and so does a mysterious stranger. After failing to get the stranger out of their chat, they discover that it is in fact Laura’s account. What at first seems to be somebody’s sick joke quickly turns into a horror-filled night for all of the not-so-innocent teens.

    The entire film takes place on the screen of Blaire’s laptop in real time as she switches between windows for Skype, iMessage, music and other sites. Although this style of filming is certainly unusual for a movie, it has been done before in television shows like “Modern Family.”

    Despite the gimmicky plotline, the acting was actually pretty convincing. The language used through iMessage was accurate, and most moviegoers could probably relate to the way Blaire would type and untype messages before sending.

    There wasn’t a lot of music in the film but when there was, it was fairly typical of what a teenager might be listening to while surfing the web. Laura’s spirit also had a little fun changing up the music to reflect the mood. At one point she switched the music to a song about lying to demonstrate the secrets that all of these so-called friends were keeping from each other.

    As a whole, the movie in a way has a good message: cyberbullying can have serious consequences.

    However, the movie’s storyline of a haunted video chat is pretty bizarre and there were a few errors throughout the film that should have been caught in the editing process before getting released. For example, there were text messages that disappeared and then reappeared as Blaire switched between windows. Sometimes the group chat would become muted while she visited other webpages, even though she never pressed the “mute” button. Perhaps all of these were just meant to be the spooky social media spirits messing with Blaire’s computer—but more likely they were just rookie mistakes on the part of the filmmakers.

    Personally, I am not a huge fan of horror movies. It’s not because they are scary but because it seems like most horror movies stick to the same old predictable plots. However, I thought “Unfriended” was unique because it portrayed horror through a medium that our generation understands. Plus its unique one-screen form is surprisingly engaging; the film will keep your eyes glued to the screen as the movie requires close attention to see all of the different things that are going on.
    However, with the extremely short run time (80 minutes) and the fact that the movie literally takes place on a laptop screen, it may be best to wait until after the film is available to stream before you watch it. Besides, watching it on Netflix using your own laptop would probably give you a more authentic experience anyway.
    In the meantime, you can ‘like’ the Spectator on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We will be your friend.

    Harrison may be reached at [email protected]

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    Harrison Bucher, Author

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