Unfriended (***1/2) And into the future of horror

Unfriended – 2015

Director Levan Gabriadze
Starring Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
Screenplay Nelson Greaves

One year ago, Laura Barnes (Sossaman) killed herself as the result of a cyberbullying episode. So, of course one year later, when her friends are all sharing a group conversation via Skype, it only occurs to one of them, after a series of glitches, that tonight’s the night. Slowly, it dawns upon each of them that this one, anonymous Skype partner named billie227 cannot be rid of. Then, one by one…well, you know.

It sounds worse than it is. When we discover that the thing is yet another take on “found footage,” we want to exact vengeance ourselves. I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Paranormal Activity meets Big Brother.

Still, you know, it’s pretty good.

The pacing is perfect. At worst, it serves as a glimpse into the multi-interfacing mind of a teenager. We get to work through the problem these 6 friends have met through the screencast perspective of Blair Lily (Hennig), a high school student who was one of Laura’s oldest friends. The back and forth between applications, screens, conversations and side conversations plays 100% through her perspective. We see that what she types is not always what she sends.

The plot is in no way surprising, but the dialogue is realistically sharp and hits where it counts. Every one of the performances, save for Peltz too easily drunk Adam keeps the viewer’s attention and willingness to suspend disbelief.

So I gotta hand it to Gabriadze as a master technician. This film had me from the start and did not let go, even if I knew what was going to happen every step of the way.

(***1/2 out of *****)

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