Here’s a film that was literally made on a computer. It’s not that big a deal, no more than cheap hand-held camcorders were in 1999, allowing for more and more documentaries to be produced and also for the found footage genre to begin. 15 years later, the concept of desktop cinema has exploded onto the scene with the likes of docs such as Kevin B. Lee’s Transformers: The Premake and now the next level in found footage: a Skype- and computer screen-based horror. Levan Gabriadze’s Unfriended is the hot example at the moment, though it follows desktop-centric found footage material seen previously in The Den and Paranormal Activity 4. One reason that Unfriended is shining as its own unique thing is that its new trailer, which debuted this week on MTV, is pretty well done. Probably a bit on the spoilery side – I don’t know for sure, just making a guess based on how much plot is laid out – but thrillingly intriguing.
Unfriended, which used to be titled Cybernatural, is basically a familiar horror premise where someone has died and a year later they appear to be back in order to murder all who did them in. Specifically for this movie, the dead person is a girl who became so humiliated by video leaked online that she then killed herself live on webcam. The whole movie, then, takes place on the first anniversary of her death, during and within a multi-line Skype call between her friends – and maybe also her. I’ve seen it compared to Scream but with an underlying anti-cyberbullying message (the trailer also seems to be hinting at an anti-doing-things-you’ll-regret-because-they-might-end-up-online-forever message). In his review from Fantasia Fest last summer, our own Rob Hunter called it “a smoothly entertaining and somewhat suspenseful ride … never boring and usually engaging” and praised its “outstanding” technical merits. But he also said its script stinks and the twist at the end is predictable.
Watch the trailer below and wonder if seeing this movie will keep you off the Internet for a while, just like how Jaws kept you out of the water.
Unfriended opens in theaters – though it seems like it’d be more interesting to watch online – on April 17, 2015.