After getting really fucking pissed-off at PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and its numerous copycats for wasting my time with their boring-as-fuck Millennial Horror Movie “scares” that use modern technology instead of the Immortal Slasher Villains of old like Jason Voorhees, the trailer for UNFRIENDED looked like the death knell of Horror Movies to me. Here we were again, with some “horror movie” that would pander to today’s generation by shoehorning the latest advances in tech and social media while showing the laziest scare/kill scenes imaginable thanks to the Lazy Horror Director’s savior, the Found Footage genre. And let’s not forget, an insane amount of product placement for many of the big named social media providers. Call me old fashioned but to me, the whole Found Footage horror genre (let alone this whole trend of cramming in modern tech into a Horror Movie so that the kids can relate) is never going to work, save for very few exceptions like CLOVERFIELD, the REC movies (QUARANTINE included) and DISTRICT 9.
But if there’s one thing I love in this world aside from Quentin Tarantino films when it comes to the movies, it’s being proven wrong and UNFRIENDED was a nice example of that specific moment. Granted, its script isn’t that impressive and its characters are the whitest Horror Movie Stereotypes you can imagine but this a movie where teenagers get slaughtered by a demonic Skype gone mad. If you went into a cinema playing UNFRIENDED and you were looking for psychological scares on par with some of the best Asian psychological-horror movies you could think of (like STRANGE CIRCUS), then you came to the wrong goddamned place.
Where UNFRIENDED stumbles in its generic story, it shines with its expertly done execution. On paper, an entire movie told from the point of view of someone’s laptop and webcam setup would sound both stupid and cheap. I mean just look at every PARANORMAL ACTIVITY rip-off: they’re nothing but cheap Direct-To-DVD quality imitations of the unimpressive original trendsetter. But unlike the BLAIR WITCH PROJECT which was all hype and nothing else, UNFRIENDED tells a simple campfire story in a new and effective manner, making good use of its webcam limitations and desktop background. Thanks to these limits and acting that’s more than just serviceable for a horror movie, the entire experience (told in real-time, no less) gets a nice believable claustrophobic feeling that builds the tension. Speaking of which, an element of UNFRIENDED I really liked was its use of tension. Most of the movie is actually just build-up and crumbling group dynamics, keeping the actual kills far and between from each other but in doing so, it makes the deaths a lot more effective than expected. While some of the jump scares were predictable and some of the deaths were too annoyingly obscured by, of all things, the fucking internet lag, UNFRIENDED still succeeds in being an effective roller coaster of a horror movie loaded with fun twists and turns few will see coming.
Obviously, UNFRIENDED won’t become some sort of revered horror classic in the future. At the most, maybe it will start of yet another trend that all cheap and lazy-as-fuck horror movies will just HAVE to fucking ape but for what it is, UNFRIENDED is a good horror ride for those who just want to have some fun in the movies and watch their friends get horrified by the wonders of a demonic Skype. Also, it’s by far the only movie where idiots who say “OMG” in their sentences in everyday conversations die in brutal ways so there’s that.