Directed By: Levan Gabriadze
Starring: Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer
Every few years or so we have a new sub genre of the horror movie that come alongs and changes the game for good. Back in 1999 we had The Blair Witch Project, which kickstarted the found footage genre and changed the way we viewed horror forever- then in 2004 the Saw franchise began and torture porn reigned supreme until 2007 when Paranormal Activity kick started a found footage renaissance. Well now eight years on from that and 16 on from the Blair Witch Project we have Unfriended- a new take on the found footage genre for the social media generation.
Exercising some well worn tropes in a fresh environment Unfriended is the story of a group of friends being terrorised on the anniversary of a classmate’s suicide by an internet troll who claims to know several secrets about them and also seems to hold the power to possess them, forcing them to commit horrible acts upon themselves.
Directed by Russian director Levan Gabriadze Unfriended takes place on a computer screen- we see the characters all interacting on the screen of the central character Blair, we watch them talk over skype, browse the internet, I-message, use Facebook and just about every other form of popular media you can think of.
What helps elevate Gabriadze’s film is not just its unique concept but its understanding of the way young people communicate with each other and the dangers of social media and cyber bullying. The fact that the whole central plot of the film takes place because the characters can’t avoid answering messages or look away from their screens speaks volumes in terms of the movies central themes.
Whilst the film does roll through horror cliches and the performances are very much horror 101 Unfriended is a success because it is so committed to its cause. Yes there are a few creases that need to be ironed out as there always are with a new sub genre, with the film losing its way towards the final third but it still makes for a fresh, innovative and well observed cinematic experience.
Whilst older generations may feel out of touch with all the ‘STFU’s’ and the ‘srsly?’ talk Unfriended will no doubt strike a chord with those raised on social networking and perhaps even notice some horrors that aren’t too far from home.