Unfriended follows the recent horror trend of having an attractive cast of unknown actors, having them act scared for an hour and a half, and spending less to make a film about them than Gandhi spent on shoes. Where this film differs however is the execution (pun intended). This film is made to look like the screen you’re watching it on is a computer, and that the whole film is one continuous shot. An interesting enough premise, but is it anything more than that?
The computer screen gimmick is used in a lot of interesting ways. The characters interact via video chat, where a group of friends are joined by a mysterious extra person who none of them seem to have invited. Something that makes the interactions interesting is that the main character Blaire (played by Shelley Hennig, who is much better here than she was in Ouija last year) has some one to one interactions with characters via Facebook and a few other ways. This sets up some interesting dynamics, as you know more of what’s going on than the characters you’re watching. On top of that, you don’t know what other characters might be saying to each other, which is another element that they may or may not use later in the film…
You also see both what Blaire is writing, and what she decides to type, but not send, and what videos and news articles she decides to look at, which all add to both character development, and add depth to the story. These are all interesting ways the film differentiates itself from other horror films, and keep Unfriended visually interesting. There is one thing that’s worth mentioning however. While it is certainly a unique viewing experience, Unfriended is very rarely a scary one. I was tense a number of times throughout, but at no point did I feel genuinely scared, and I’m a notorious wuss.
That leads to a big question. Can a horror film be any good if it isn’t scary? I genuinely think that Unfriended is a good film, despite the fact that it doesn’t do the one thing a horror film should do. I doubt I would say that a comedy without any funny bits was good, but this film somehow managed to keep my intrigue throughout. And who said gimmicks were a bad thing?
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