Unfriended leaves viewers in pixelated purgatory



By Steve Newton

You’ve gotta give Blumhouse Productions credit: they sure know how to make big bucks off cheaply made horror flicks. The company is noted for 2007’s Paranormal Activity, which was mostly shot in one bedroom, cost 15 grand to make, and grossed over $190 mil. Now Blumhouse has gone and released a film set entirely on a laptop screen.

The set decorators’ union will not be pleased.

The laptop’s owner/operator is pretty high-schooler Blair (Ouija’s Shelley Hennig), who we first meet via her mouse as she clicks open a shakey Live Leak video of classmate Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) shooting herself in the face. Soon after Blair takes part in an online hangout session with her hot-to-trot boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) and four other bored-looking teenage friends, but their Skype conversation gets peppered with cryptic messages from an anonymous lurker, who seems to be posting from the dead girl’s online accounts.

The texts get more and more accusatory until–shades of I Know What You Did Last Summer–it becomes clear that revenge is the motive. Like a hacker Jigsaw from Sawthe interloper–intent on finding out who posted the humiliating YouTube video that led to Laura’s suicide–offers the kids the choice of playing Never Have I Ever or dying.

Instead of just logging off, the twits decide to play the game.

The rest of the movie focuses on the mental anguish the six suffer as their darkest secrets are revealed, turning one against the other and leading to much shouting, swearing, screaming, and gory nastiness, including death by blender.

Unfortunately, because they literally just popped up on Blair’s computer screen, we know very little about the true nature and motivations of the characters. That lack of involvement, coupled with the inherent visual and aural (“click…click…click..”) irritations of Unfriended, bring its overall entertainment rating down a notch.

If you thought the shakey-cam hell of “found footage” horror was hard to take, prepare yourself for pixelated purgatory.

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