Saturday, May 16, 2015

StarBoy91's Theatrical Escapade - Unfriended

Written: May 4th-16th, 2015
Hello everyone, StarBoy91 here; passionate about video games, big retrophile, and fan of all things 16-bit, and welcome to my newest (belated) Theatrical Escapade installment regarding the cyberthriller Unfriended.
This movie actually made its debut last year for the Fantasia Film Festival under the name Cybernatural, and only recently it's got a wider theatrical release this April under the newest name Unfriended.  When I first saw the trailer for the movie months back I just could not buy into it; but on April 18th I decided to watch it on a whim (sorta) after having heard a few good things about it and that for a film of its kind it's actually scary horror fare.  I also hear that it's one of the most divisive movies this year, and I can certainly believe that after having watched it.  But from where I stand, it was better and even scarier than I had expected.  O~O
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
Rated: R | Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 | Running Time: 82 Minutes | Director: Levan Gabriadze
During an ongoing nightly Skype chat with Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and her friends a mysterious user signed on as "billie227" has joined in the conversation simultaneously and won't go away.  At first they believe it's a hacker, until it's revealed to them to be Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) seeking revenge on the sextet for posting an unflattering video of her exactly one year ago, which drove her to commit suicide.  Now her ghost has come back to exact vengeance on them by messing with the software and committing grisly murders, making their night (through Skype) a living cybernatural hell.
Unfriended is a pretty interesting take in the horror genre, and considering that it just takes place in one monitor throughout practically the whole movie I'm surprised at how effective it was.  I think part of what makes it effective is that you mainly see the characters react on Skype whenever something big is about to go down, and the actors bring in convincing performances, even when it does get unsettling at times.

I was at the edge of my seat when watching this movie, and part of what attributes to that is the buildup to the inevitable jump scares.  The buildup was succinct in this case, and considering that the movie takes place in real time as opposed to cutting to the next minute or hour or so it wasn't hard to feel nervous because I knew something was going to happen at any time (even while Blaire was browsing online, or when the video feed of a character just freezes), which worked to the movie's advantage.  And despite wanting to see these characters come out alive they're not exactly all that great as people (especially when considering their involvement in Laura's plight), which is an interesting mix.
Image from Rotten Tomatoes
The way in which Laura Barns' ghost intimidates them and tortures them is a bit sadistic and unsettling often times that it borders on ingenious at certain points.  One of the ways she does this is by forcing the living characters to play "I Never", which to be honest I was not aware was an actual game until I saw this movie.  One thing I admired was that at the core of it there's an anti-bulling message, which I thought was a good theme; for there are consequences for (cyber)bulling.  Maybe not to the extremes that the movie presents (obviously), but there are consequences for such negligent actions (which is more the parent or guardian's fault for not being a good role model for the person turned bully than said bully, for parents serve as an influence), but I digress.

As I said though, the movie has gotten some polarizing reactions from critics and people; I notice in some circles that some people genuinely liked it while in another circle people really did not like Unfriended.  Part of that has got to do with the fact that it's all viewed on one monitor and it's nothing but characters reacting to stuff they're seeing, and at eighty minutes I can understand how some people may feel that it's too much to sustain the movie length.  Mercifully short, though.

Unfriended is not a movie for everyone, and I can understand why people may end up not liking it.  But personally, I thought it was a very effectively solid horror film with its own ingenious take in the genre with a strong message (it's good, but not The Conjuring good).  I'm not entirely certain how it's going to work as a franchise, as I hear sequels are being taken into consideration, but I guess we'll see when the time comes.  =)
My Personal Score: 4/5
Stick around, as I return to the Theatrical Escapade series with the latest (April-wise) speed vehicle Furious 7=)
I want to thank you for reading my honest Theatrical Escapade thoughts on this movie, so please leave me a comment and let me know whether you agree with me or not.  Until next time, I'm StarBoy91, and may your day shine brightly!  =)
<(^o^)^TO EACH THEIR OWN^(^o^)>

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