"Unfriended" Review

The internet and social media rules our world. What happens when that world rules you? “Unfriended” is simply a gimmick in which writer Nelson Greaves won’t let us unplug from the desktop shown before us, and if you can get past that, it works.

Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and her friends, Val (Courtney Halverson), Mitch (Moses Storm), Adam (Will Peltz), Jess (Renee Olstead), and Ken (Jacob Wysocki) group chat via Skype. This particular evening is the anniversary of Laura’s (Heather Sossaman) death. Laura committed suicide after an embarrassing video hit the web and went viral. The entire story is told from the perspective of Blaire’s computer.

When the group chat is initialized, an unknown entity is also on the chat. As they try to figure out who it is, they all start receiving messages via various social media. Skype, Facebook, Spotify, and iMessaging all get used during the course of the evening. While things start out as what seems to be a joke, the unknown entity starts to put the group’s dirty secrets on display.

You could write the rest of the film. There are enough characters to start killing them off one by one. As the mysterious person takes over the social media handles of the late Laura, the group is forced to come to terms with the wrong that they did.

Sadly, there are no likable characters. We don’t even care about Laura. What makes the movie interesting is the use of the computer screen and seeing it from Blaire’s perspective. We’ve all been on the computer and typed a message, erased it, and then typed something else or cycled through applications while multitasking. Director Levan Gabriadze captures these moments extremely well. We spend a good portion of the time reading what Blaire is typing to her boyfriend Mitch or Laura as she contacts her on other apps. It’s intriguing and voyeuristic. 

Gabriadze also uses the sounds that we hear on a daily basis to his advantage. The clicking of computer keys, mouse clicks, Skype’s ringtone for calls coming end or going off, and other sounds are used to create tension. Even connection and disconnection issues become a part of the suspense of the film. 

Ultimately, “Unfriended” would end if the characters would just disconnect and walk away. Yet their curiosity to find out who is stalking them, and our curiosity to continue watching keeps the film going. It’s definitely not worth seeing on the big screen, but perhaps the small screen or even better, a laptop is where it could be most effective.

Rating: C

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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.