High school bullying is a useful theme to build a horror movie around. Horror movies are all about our real fears, after all, and as we’ve seen repeatedly, giving proto-adults what amounts to cameras connected to the Internet is guaranteed to end poorly. That said, though, we’re not sure Unfriended was the best way to tackle this particular topic.
We’ll spare you the suspense: Yes, the entire movie is shot in videochat. It is a skit concept dragged out to feature length. The idea is that a vengeful ghost logs into the chat and starts outing dark secrets and generally terrifying the people who made her life miserable. And I was on-board as it’s kind of a neat riff on the classic high school ghost story/urban legend riiiiiiiiight up until the moment it was revealed that the kills will involve a bunch of unknown actors trying to convince us their hands are haunted.
Come on, you’re already shooting this thing on a webcam, you can’t spring the money to put an actress in some ghost makeup? Or have somebody in a green-screen suit wrestle with the actors? Hell, do some effects work! Let’s see some exploding heads! Blood spurting from the mouth! Anything but a summer stock performer struggling to remember what little mime work he knows as he pulls a gun towards his mouth!
It’s kind of a shame because there’s a great concept lurking in here. It’s become increasingly clear that giving a teenager a smartphone is an absolutely terrible idea. They’re essentially weapons of informational warfare being handed to people ill-equipped to evaluate the consequences of their actions, which seems ideal for a horror movie, but this movie seems more interested in jump scares. Still, I’ve got to admit, the fat kid feeding himself into a blender was funny, so this might be better than it looks. We’ll find out in April.