Articles, Film Reviews

Unfriended (2015)

Last night I went to see the new Blumhouse horror film, Unfriended.  For those unfamiliar with Blumhouse’s business model, it is as follows: make a horror film with a shoestring budget, make a modest amount of money from the built in horror audience, triple your budget and go home smiling.  Unfriended may be the Blumhouse-est Blumhouse film ever made. Between the webcam cinematography and the fact that literally every frame of the movie has product placement, I’m pretty sure the audience I was in was enough to make the movie a success. And I should point out; we all saw it for free.

Unfriended is a found footage horror movie in the tradition of Blumhouse’s Paranormal Activity.  However, instead of being shot by home video cameras, Unfriended unfolds entirely on a computer screen.  Blaire (Shelley Hennig) is a girl who just wants to chat with her friends about… something (I just realized they never really get to that part).  But a cyber-ghost of a cyber-bullied former friend just won’t let them chat about that… something (there’s brief mention of a concert I think?).  Whatever.  It’s hard to describe this movie in a way that doesn’t make it sound like a waste of time.

Here’s the big twist: I liked this movie.  I really liked this movie.  Not in an ironic so-bad-it’s-good way, but in a sincere, I-enjoyed-myself way.  The film preys on the anxiety all of us encounter when waiting for a video to buffer (the rainbow wheel of death is literal in this one).  Everyone who dies (spoiler: people die in a horror movie) does so in a wonderfully creative and gruesome fashion, and I was legitimately scared several times in the movie.  

As if this weren’t enough, there were several laugh-out-loud moments for me in the theater.  Not because of bad effects, or anything like that, but because the dialogue was funny.  Horror and comedy go together very well, and Unfriended blends them nicely.  However, a perfect movie, this was not.

While I loved the dialogue in the movie, I loathed the characters spouting it.  They’re the typical dumb meat sacks you see in every horror movie, but thinking of recent horror gems You’re Next and The Babadook makes me insist on having a higher standard for my meat sacks.  Another issue I had is that the rest of the characters seem to pop in and out of existence as Blaire checks other things on her computer.  Considering the whole movie takes place in a group Skype call, the characters should have conversations in the background while Blaire looks up cyber ghosts.  Instead, they stay silent until they’re ready to advance the plot.

Quick Review: Genre clichés and shallow characters may stop this movie from being great, but Unfriended is a scary, funny, and overall very entertaining movie that’s definitely worth a watch.

Grade: B

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