The film industry is always a few years behind the actual technology people are using. For example, Facebook has been around for about ten years now, and is even regularly spoken about as being on the decline, but only now are we starting to see films that feature it as an important part of the story / setting. Last year we saw the first major release to do this, the surprisingly good Unfriended, and now we’re seeing a film that I’m sure many people say is exactly the same thing. Having seen it, I can tell you that the two are nothing alike, except in one key area – they’re both pretty good.
Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is just your regular, gorgeous, super popular, incredibly nice, very intelligent high school student, with more than 800 friends on Facebook! Wow! When Marina (Liesl Ahlers), a girl who’s only Facebook friend is Laura, starts to talk to her a little bit too much, she unfriends her, which is of course socially devastating. The next day at school, the students are informed that Marina has committed suicide, and from then on, strange and deadly things start to happen to Laura and her closest friends.
I’ll get the obvious thing out-of-the-way first – none of these actors are age appropriate. Some of them are quite clearly in their late 20s, and seeing them in a high school setting is both embarrassing and distracting. I’ll get something else out-of-the-way – this film does rely heavily on jump scares and some pretty nasty gore. The thing is, it’s all done really well.
While this may not be a cinematic masterpiece, a lot of the elements work. There’s some very effective and disturbing imagery, the mythology built around the story is interesting and makes me want to know more, there’s a musical theme that runs throughout that adds a lot, and there are some interesting animated sections. The person that deserves the most praise here is director Simon Verhoeven, who clearly made a lot of good choices while making this film.
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