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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Unfriended movie review: the call is coming from inside Facebook!

Unfriended red light

There’s little less compelling than a vague evil spirit with loosely defined powers doing random “scary” things as required by the script.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A bunch of teens group-chatting online find themselves e-tormented by the evil spirit of a classmate who was bullied into suicide exactly one year earlier. They can’t just log off and shut down because, well, evil spirit is evil, and has supernatural powers and stuff. Unfriended isn’t so much a movie as a monitor mirror for Blaire’s (Shelley Hennig) Mac as she tries to memorialize the Facebook page of dead Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), watches the YouTube video that drove Laura to kill herself, Googles to find out what you should do when the departed try to chat with you online (“Do not answer messages from the dead!”), iMessages her freak-out to her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm), and Skype-confers with their circle of pals about how to get rid of the digital ghost that is bothering them. It’s the next step in found-footage: it’s Screengrab: The Motion Picture. It might be the first movie that would have more impact, not less, if you watched it not projected onto a cinema screen but streaming on a laptop… that is, if it were worth watching at all. It’s a cheap sort of clever that director Leo Gabriadze engages in (and it’s not even all that original; Open Windows did something very similar), one that does not deviate in the least from tedious tropes we’ve seen play out before in countless supernatural-horror flicks. It desperately tries — and fails — to both create a new urban legend about the dead lurking online and then hijack that urban legend for scarifying purposes, but all it succeeds in is a salacious purloining of terrible realities about online bullying and teen suicide for would-be entertainment purposes. Blaire and her friends are nasty, unpleasant kids who think they are “good people,” but I felt nothing for them and didn’t buy one bit — or byte — of their plight. There’s little less compelling than a vague evil spirit with loosely defined powers doing random “scary” things as required by the script. Sitting and staring at someone else’s computer while that happens is, however, one of those things.


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of Unfriended for its representation of girls and women.


red light 1 star

Unfriended (2015)
US/Can release: Apr 17 2015
UK/Ire release: May 01 2015

MPAA: rated R for violent content, pervasive language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use - all involving teens
BBFC: rated 15 (very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, suicide theme)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

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