Unfriended - The Skype horror movie


#1

Check out the synopsis:

Unfriended unfolds over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for a shaming video that led a vicious bully to kill herself a year earlier.

Directed by Levan Gabriadze. Starring Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson and Heather Sossaman.

Sounds terrible, right? It's gotta be Asylum or some other low-budget outfit, right?

Universal Studios and Blumhouse Productions (Ouija, Paranormal Activity, The Purge, and Insidious).


#2

Remove Ouija, Purge and Insidious and the stinger works better. For me, at least. ;)


#3

Worked better in The Den (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2503154/?ref_=nm_knf_i2)


#4

It’s kiddie fare. Basically low-budget horror aimed at teens, who aren’t exactly demanding when it comes to quality. I’m sure it’ll make a tidy profit. I’m curious if the entire movie will take place in a chatroulette session. That’s what the trailer implies.

BTW, you guys should maybe check out Open Windows. It’s a thriller directed by the guy who did Timecrimes. It’s moderately clever for how it takes place entirely in realtime on the screen of a laptop with multiple open windows.

-Tom


#5

Or just play any of Christine Love’s games.


#6

You had me at Timecrimes. Is it available to rent anywhere?


#7

Seems interesting:

But I think I better check out some of this actresses other works first…


#8

Yep, it’s on video on demand. Unfortunately, it’s not on par with Timecrimes. It’s basically all about the gimmick. For a better Elijah Wood thriller, check out Grand Piano.

-Tom

#9

Man, what is going on with Elijah Woods? I see his face on a bunch of Netflix VOD movies.


#10

That’s two people who’ve suggested I see Grand Piano. I do believe that will be on my viewing plate this weekend.


#11

One of the best things about Grand Piano is John Cusack as the villain. There’s some weird stuff going on with his career where they’re fishing about trying to make him the heavy to varying effect. It’s godawful in a buddy movie with Thomas Jane called Drive Hard, but it’s fascinating and effective in Grand Piano and a kidnapping yarn called Reclaim, in which he befriends Ryan Phillipe and Rachel Lefevre as a young couple come to a Third World country to adopt a kid.

Always with the same expression, too. “To think that I was in The Lord of the Rings…!”

-Tom


#12

Also, Wilfred.

I assume he just takes roles out of personal interest now. I don’t know how much being Frodo paid, but I assume he isn’t hurting for work.


#13

“Sam, the cinema has been saved, but not for me…”


#14

The Verge loved it.

Unfriended’s marketing department is playing up the topical cyberbullying angle for obvious reasons, but it undersells how revolutionary it is on a technical level. The trailer cuts to full-screen close-ups of the individual Skype windows, but this never actually happens in the film. The frame remains locked off to the exact area of the desktop; we never see a face bigger than one-sixteenth of the screen. “Cuts” are made by whatever Blaire chooses to bring up on the screen, whether its Facebook Messenger (where Laura communicates with her directly) or a paranormal forum explaining the phenomenon of the dead coming back to possess people via social media (helpfully scrolled through at a comfortable reading pace for us by Blaire while her friends argue in the background). Otherwise, we are never explicitly forced to look at anything; like the first forays into VR filmmaking, the filmmaker (in this case Russian director Levan Gabriadze, in his US feature debut) can only suggest where the eye should go via composition.

It’s the details that sell the conceit. The first moment in which my jaw dropped was simple, but astoundingly effective: at one point, Blaire is Facebook messaging with Mitch, in an effort to explain Laura’s troubled past. All we see is her typing and deleting as she tries to figure out how to say it: “When we were kids…” Delete, delete, delete. “Her stepdad…” Delete, delete, delete. “Family stuff.” Send. And all the while we know Mitch just sees that “Blair is typing” notification — 15 seconds of that, followed by two words. We know what that means! That is now as standard a human expression as a lip bite or a furrowing of the brow! To see that acknowledged, and utilized for dramatic effect, was thrilling, unlike anything I had seen in a film before.

This new storytelling language is the main reason to see Unfriended, but the digital parallels of standard horror tropes are also a lot of fun, both clever and so obvious it’s a wonder nobody has taken advantage of it before. Lookout Point becomes a sexy Skype session. The desperate scramble for outside help becomes a whirl through Chatroulette. (The outdated use of the latter is meant for intentional laughs, as if to say “yup, these people are that desperate.”) And the film uses glitches and video freezes as its main delivery system for digital horror: a character’s self-inflicted suicide-by-blender is all the more alarming for how little we can actually make out through the degraded stream. Hitchcock would approve.


#15

Uh, so, yeah. It turns out this wasn’t awful. Don’t I feel silly.

-Tom


#16

I thought it could have been good except for one problem, it’s not the least bit scary or creepy or thrilling. It’s inert. They could have had a character go to a creepypasta site and read a story and that would have been more scary. Also, I don’t like to watch people yelling at each other, it just annoys me. That’s not a criticism of the movie, it’s just my own issue but unfortunately this movie pivots on these characters lashing out verbally, which is their only choice since they are in separate locations.


#17

Pretty cool movie…right up until the very last scene, and they just couldn’t help themselves. They had to blow it. Sigh.


#18

Caught this one on VOD finally (it just kept getting thrown out to me as a recommendation, for whatever reason) and the whole thing just gets a “meh” from me. It’s a movie that I knew wasn’t really for me pretty much from the start - kids with their kid drama doing kid things wasn’t terribly interesting. I did like the gimmick of presenting the entire movie through social media and Skype calls. I haven’t seen the other movies listed in this thread, so they may be presented better but I liked what they tried to do. But as far as the whole central ghost story, it was pretty much as tired as can be, and the deaths were kind of cheesy and light. Which is probably fitting, since I imagine this is intended for a teen audience. I think the most horrific scene in the movie is the first one, it’s all kinda downhill from there. And I agree with charmtrap that the final scene just got a “really?” from me - I expected it, but was disappointed all the same. But I liked the idea, and would enjoy seeing more stuff like this that at least tries to show you something a little different, just wish it wasn’t wrapped around a tired old ghost story.


#19

Hey, this is random - according to this report, a sequel to Unfriended has already been filmed and they’re showing it around.

I kind of liked the first one. Not terribly scary but kind of interesting. Which I guess is what I said a little over a year ago.