@lcfremont has a get off my lawn moment as she reviews Unfriended...
Much has been made of this new generation that has grown up living their lives on the internet and I am definitely one who does not envy them. Technology has evolved so quickly that we have only taken the time to devour and abuse it. We have yet to step back and thoughtfully look at what it’s lasting implications are. Sure, we preach that everything on the internet lasts forever, but I don’t know that we truly understand what that means until we find ourselves in the same situation as Laura Barnes.
At the center of Unfriended, a found footage cyber horror film, is Laura Barnes and an incredibly ugly YouTube video of her that went viral and, ultimately, caused her to take her own life. Of course, because we are speaking of the online generation, she killed herself in public while people videotaped it. Uh, duh.
Unfriended takes place entirely on the computer screen of Blaire Lilly (the “good” girl) while she spends the night having a Skype conversation with her boyfriend Mitch (the nice guy), Adam (the angry bad boy), Jess (the slut), Ken (the nerd) and Val ( the bitch ). Unfortunately, this is no Breakfast Club and our characters are only mildly deep and one hundred percent annoying.
The concept is very clever and the fact that the movie unfolds in real time is pretty impressive and this is what was really giving me hope that I was going to see something truly unique. Unfortunately, I came away from this film having all of my negative, judgmental suspicions of today’s youth confirmed. A group of over entitled, shallow, narcissistic assholes live in houses with no parents where they drink wine, smoke pot and speak down to one another all while being terrorized by an unknown Skype presence. It all starts innocently enough with Blaire receiving messages from Laura. Assuming it is her boyfriend Mitch playing a “joke” on her, she instant messages him and asks him to stop. There are quite a few IM conversations between Blaire and Mitch that are excessively annoying simply because these kids actually use the word ‘like’ in sentences and cannot be bothered to just spell words correctly. Also, this Blaire sends rapid fire messages to Mitch and then starts getting mad at him because he’s not answering.
Like, give him half a second to respond
Yes, dear friends, this is how a lot of the movie plays out. In real time, short sentences where vowels are not allowed. There are also a million and one tabs at the top of the screen and I couldn’t help but wonder how much Forever 21 had to pay to be one of those tabs. Or how much did it cost for Spotify to be the go to music service that Laura uses to antagonize our group of jerkfaces? While impressed with the speed that Blaire exhibits utilizing Skype, Facebook, Google, YouTube and Chat Roulette, it was overly taxing at times to keep up with everything and then there were moments where you literally stared at a blank screen waiting for Blaire to decide how to react to something. Um, like, totally boring.
Ultimately, Laura plays the most evil and devious game of all: Never Have I Ever. As everyone is forced to confess their sins via a drinking game, the body count begins. Laura Barnes has returned on the anniversary of her suicide not just as a tech wizard, but as a supernatural entity that has the power to force you to kill yourself by some of the most dubious means possible. Remember how awesome the blender scenes in Gremlins and You’re Next were? Yeah, well, there is a blender scene in Unfriended and it’s not awesome. In fact, all I could think about was why someone has a blender for making salsa set up next to their computer. I suppose for the same reason that another person has access to a loaded gun which he uses to threaten the online stalker. I’m not sure how Adam believed he was going to shoot an unknown person through his computer screen, but he was totes going to. For real. For sure, my fave death, like for reals, comes via a flatiron. As someone who professionally wields a flatiron on a daily basis, there is no way that thing could have fit that far into that girl’s throat unless she truly had slept with the entire football team in an effort to train for her future pornography career. Again, where are these kids’ parents? This is probably just my “get off my lawn” mentality, but it was utterly distracting to me that a group of high school students who have access to tons of technology and live in nice houses, didn’t have any adult supervision. Although,I suppose if my child was as big of an asshole as some of these, I wouldn’t want to stay home with them either.
Truthfully, this is a great concept and I’m quite certain it plays much better with it’s intended age group, but it also felt like a giant missed opportunity. The overall message was one of comeuppance and the best revenge is to humiliate people in the same manner that they humiliated you. Don’t be the bigger person or take the high road. Always look for people’s faults and then tear them down for being a fallible human being. Everything on the internet does last forever. Especially now that we have become a society of people who take a perverse delight in seeing others fail. If you ever find yourself home alone with nothing to do, watching Unfriended on your computer screen would probably be a decent way to spend 82 minutes, but paying to spend 82 minutes with people who encourage others to kill themselves is opposite of fun.