HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:67.5
Ok, so now that we’ve had found footage films, ghost films, a book about a Ouija board, we now have a brand new form of horror. The “Cyber” horror. Shot for literally ONE million dollars, we have a movie that’s literally one big giant skype chat. We get to see facebook, Instagram, some youtube and the revolving skype instant video messages, but other than that, it’s us LITERALLY looking at the main character’s computer screen for 87 minutes. Yes, you got that right, we are seeing typing, youtube, pixelated skype calls that look like they were using DSL from the 90’s and nothing else. Now, the concept is unique, I’ll give them that, but unfortunately “Unfriended” can’t get over the fact that it’s not even remotely scary and that the generic “ghost revenge” plot doesn’t exactly lend itself towards excellence. I jumped once or twice at the end, but that was only a quick startle due to the standard level jump scares employed.
High school students Blair (Shelley Hennig) and Mitch (Moses Storm) are doing a little flirtsy flirtsy skyping when they are interrupted by a group call from three other friends, Jess (Renee Olstead), Adam (Will Peltz) and Ken (Jacob Wysocki). However, an unknown party is attached to the call and no matter what they try the caller just can’t be disconnected. Thinking it’s a glitch, the 5 friends just continue on with their conversation. That is until the “glitch” starts typing to them. Sending them links of a dead girl who committed suicide last year, the unknown party starts to terrorize the kids. AS you would expect, the teens try to disconnect the party from the chat, but weird things start happening, as soon as they think they have the out, something hinky happens on the computer and boom, this third party is back again.
As if things couldn’t get worse, one of their friends keels over dead at the computer after disobeying a command from the intruder. Now if that doesn’t get a normal person’s attention, I don’t get what will. Then the movie pretty much progresses into a horrific tale of “never have I ever” where the losers of the game end up dying. One by one the group learns some pretty nasty secrets about each other, and they ALL lead back to this girl, Laura Barns. Someone made a cruddy comment about her, someone told her via a fake account to kill herself, etc etc et. With the body count piling up, Blair does everything she possibly can to stop the carnage before it’s too late. Unless it already IS too late.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51281[/img]I’m really not sure where to begin. The entire movie screamed train wreck from the trailer, and the film itself isn’t too far off from that result. There’s nothing original in the screenplay, the acting is minimal, as pretty much all you see is some pixelated and low speed internet pictures as the moving visuals, and the voices is where all the “acting” comes from. The scares are nonexistent with my only feelings of “heart leaping” coming from the final jump scare at the end. Not to mention that I could see the ending coming from a mile away. I mean, seriously? The ghost revenge story is about as by the books as you can get. A nasty spirit comes back to haunt the people who ended her life and she metes out some just desserts by the end of the movie. Not much more you can do with that. The only disappointing thing is that you don’t really SEE the kills, which is usually most of the appeal of a horror flick like this. You get a glimpse of the action as the skype video flickers a quick image here or there, but with $1 million for the whole enchilada there’s not much they could do.
I will admit to being impressed with the premise. The whole idea of someone torturing another person through the internet is kind of a long time internet joke. That tongue in cheek wink wink combined with the terror of a horror movie is kind of cool, and for the budget they had, the powers that be certainly tried their hardest. Unfortunately there’s not a whole lot to do with that concept and even at 87 minutes the story feels stretched waaaaaaaaaaaaay past its limits.
Rated R for violent content, pervasive language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use - all involving teens
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51289[/img]Universal’s 1.78:1 AVC encoded video encode is probably the only really GREAT thing about the movie. There’s not much that can go wrong here. We have a tone of time where the digitally shot film stares DIRECTLY at a computer monitor and the skype program that Blair is using on her Mac computer, thus not a whole lot that can go wrong. Consistent lighting, consistent focus and we have a recipe for excellence. Colors are crisp and clean, the contrast is perfectly balance and being that the movie is shot almost entirely in a dark room, exceptionally inky and deep black levels. There is some mild banding on the background of Blair’s computer, but if you look at the surrounding components it seems to be the source image that she’s using on her screen rather than an encode issue. The video chat the teens are using is full of pixilation, ghosting, and all sorts of other low bitrate video issues, but that is most CERTAINLY part of the charm of this type of film (although I haven’t seen video breakup that bad since the late 90’s when I had 1 mbps DSL). Great looking, but limited in scope, encode from Universal.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=51297[/img]The lone 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track on the disc sounds almost as good as the video is great, but the nature of a very talky film limits the sound stage you can really hear out of the situation. Dialog is crisp and locked up at the front of the soundstage, and all vocals are clear as a bell (except for the garbled noises that are part of the effect of a skype video call that breaks up). The surrounds are used decently, but not a whole lot except for an ambient humming used for intensity. The LFE is rather sneaky here, with moments where it’s nonexistent and then that throbbing, pulsing sound starts building up to ear pressurizing levels. A good track, it does what it’s asked to, but the lack of dynamics in the track is mainly due to the whole “being on a computer” the entire movie scenario. Solid A-
“Unfriended” is nothing new amongst the onslaught of subpar horror flicks saturating the market, with the only unique thing about it being the whole “cyber terror” twist. It’s not offensive in any way, but just happens to ride that middle line of being neither hot nor cold, leaving the viewer feeling VERY bored by the time the credits start rolling. The disc itself is a barebones package with no extras, one audio track only and a Ultraviolet digital copy and DVD copy as the only semblance of anything extra, which leaves me recommending this as a solid pass (unless you’re morbidly curious).
Starring: Heather Sossaman, Mathew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson
Directed by: Levan Gabriadze
Written by: Nelson Greaves
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 83 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 11th, 2015
Buy Unfriended On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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