Nowadays, teenagers spend their evenings sat in their bedroom chatting to their friends on Facebook, watching video clips on YouTube and listing to music through Spotify. Levan Gabriadze’s “Unfriended” (originally entitled “Cybernatural”) utilises this to create a 21st century horror film.
During an online group chat session, teenagers Blaire (Shelley Hennig), Mitch (Moses Storm), Jess (Renee Olstead), Adam (Will Peltz), Ken (Jacob Wysocki) and Val (Courtney Halverson) are suddenly joined by a user known only as “Billie227”.
It soon emerges that the mysterious user is the ghost of Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) – a classmate who killed herself exactly one year prior. She forces the friends to confront their darkest secrets and lies.
Shot through a series of long takes, the entire story unfolds in real time on Blaire’s computer, as she navigates her way from program to program, deleting and re-typing messages. This unique approach to storytelling makes for highly captivating viewing that is an overly-familiar sight for the film’s target audience.
This familiarisation allows cinemagoers to easily become immersed within the online experience. It makes Unfriended make feel fresh yet, at the same time, incredibly creepy.
Whereas actual scares are far and few between, Unfriended manages to create an extremely unnerving tension that, more often than not, leads to a vicious kill sequence. Such scenes are heightened through the use of lost connections, pixelating video, poor lighting and awkward camera angles.
It’s refreshing to see that the ghost of Laura Barns has a personality and sense of humour, as she finds new and inventive ways to torture her former classmates. In the film’s most memorable moment, Connie Conway’s “How You Lie, Lie, Lie” begins to play on Spotify after Jess reveals she has been hiding something from her friends.