Unfriended (2015) Movie Review: Add Your Laptop to Things You’ll Be Scared of Now

Drinking Game

Take a Drink: for every time a song on Spotify is played.

Take a Drink: for each secret revealed during “the game”

Do a Shot: if you’re thankful that your high school years didn’t involve social media.

Community Review

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Movie Review

By: Bill Arceneaux (Two and a Half Beers) –

“Are these young kids really into this?”, said an overweight elderly African American woman sitting behind me, early on when watching the latest “horror” film Unfriended. Prior to and during the screening, the woman made many a snark comment, while stuffing her face with nachos and burping as loudly as possible. “I got NO shame,” she proudly exclaimed.

It was something I didn’t initially want to remember, but her cheese sauce-covered fingers and slightly heavy odor got me thinking some time later; Does she represent what the current generation of high schoolers – like those depicted in Unfriended – see when someone older criticizes them, and if so… is that bad? I mean, if true, do we older generations get to look high and mighty, standing on pedestals, looking down on those born post 9/11?

The answer is yes – yes we do. And I think this movie joins us.

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Will YOU join Homer?

A Toast

A quick look at Rotten Tomatoes shows a fairly positive score for this film (at least at the time of writing), which would’ve surprised me before viewing. The gimmick of Unfriended is that it’s all from the point of view of someone’s computer desktop – a Macbook, I believe – taking place over multiple Skype calls, one after the other. In between calls or when the main character Blaire finds it necessary, we switch from programs to web browsers to music playlists to social media accounts. At many points, we even get Google searches, ranging from the plausible (like looking up info on hauntings) to the flat out silly and desperate (like searching for things only the ghost would know about).

The use of communication technology is pretty flawless and impressive, and taking “found footage” into the screen is pretty creative. I think I should mention that the great 0s & 1s has much more to say on our dependency and use of such services, but much can still be pulled from Unfriended despite the treatment of the style as merely a gimmick. It could be said that these kids live entirely through virtual windows, becoming the end result of Videodrome essentially. THAT is scary. However, it’s good to know that we inject a bit of real life feeling into our digital selves. IS that scary?

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“Long live the new flesh”

Whoever made Unfriended has a rich sense of humor, often using ingenious timing of internet errors and memes and such against the teens while they attempt to eradicate the “troll” from their chat. In perhaps my favorite sequence, Blaire tries to get help through the infamous ChatRoulette, sifting through people who could care less, dick picks and, best of all, users skipping to the next video because she isn’t entertaining enough. THIS is what we’ve become. THAT is her worst nightmare. Your plight just ain’t beating this video of Dennis Quaid losing it, honey. Wait, that was a parody? I stand by what I typed.

Two and a Half Beers Later

The characters, from our “lead” to the standard horror fodder stereotypes to even the apparition terrorizing them, are all awful, spoiled, and have warped senses of morals. When I brought up on Twitter that “post 9/11 teens suck”, a friend tweeted back:

I can’t agree with this more. Remember the movie The Cable Guy, about an adult who was raised almost entirely on TV? Well, now kids are raised on the information super highway. The world brain. And that brain hasn’t developed or evolved a heck of a lot yet. Technically, horror movies often do involve people of questionable reasoning and judgment receiving some well-deserved punishment, but honestly, I’d rather these kids get out and feel the sunshine on their faces, use their phones sparingly, and get involved in some sports or something.

Basically, what I’m getting at is… this movie can get pretty depressing. Depressing for this generation, the ones to follow, and the ones before it.

Verdict

That lady who sat behind me left the theater with roughly 30 minutes left. She probably had the right idea, as not much more was needed to know or gather about Unfriended after that. Still, I don’t regret watching it. It was fun, funny, and facetious. Scary for reasons other than mainstream audiences will be expecting, but a good example of where we’re at right now. These will be our politicians in a few decades, you know.

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About Bill Arceneaux

Independent film critic from New Orleans and member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA).

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