REVIEW: make sure you’re watching ‘Unfriended’ with friends

WANTED: my very own internet buddy to hang out with me into the late night hours. A bonus if you know how to keep the dead out of your Skype, Facebook and iMessage chats.

Recently, I was fairly hard on today’s horror genre. However, when we’re getting the same kind of cut-and-paste formula, don’t expect the audience to feel you’re a game changer in an industry with opportunity.

Not too long ago, Unfriended came out on home release and Bluray. I’d been interested in the movie for a while; Sean Leslie and I even discussed wanting to watch it. It looked different.

I was more right than wrong, which is good news.

Unfriended stars Shelley Hennig (Miss Teen USA 2004 – she also starred in Ouija), Heather Sossamon and Jacob Wysocki, among others – the cast is full of unknowns, but that doesn’t matter. The story is told through Hennig’s character’s desktop Mac computer (which is slightly infuriating if you’re a PC user, like me). On the anniversary of Laura Barns’s (Sossamon) suicide, her childhood friend Blaire (Hennig) and a number of their friends are forced into an online game by someone claiming via Skype to be Laura.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a look at the trailer, to realize this puppy is meant to be a slasher/horror film. I must say the movie was incredibly slow in the first twenty minutes, and much of the first bit could have been edited out.

This is a film targeting a specific demographic. You have to know what Facebook is and how it works; you have to understand things like iMessage – basically, you’ll need to be up to date on your social media p’s and q’s.

Aside from that, the movie is straight forward. Keeping track of everyone’s narrative and their involvement in Laura’s story can be a little jarring, but once you’re in the loop, you’re fine.

Found footage movies are nothing new, but I’m impressed with director Leo Gabriadze’s ability to keep you hooked, even though some of the visuals could be disengaging. Looking at the screens, for instance, minus the cast, were a little boring for me. Sometimes I found myself annoyed with the small font in the chat sequences, because I couldn’t read what was going on.

I believe this movie did what it set out to do. Scared the heck out of me and shocked me a bit. It also performed well at the box office – sitting at $32 million dollars made from a production budget of $1 million. That’s right. A million bucks and they cranked out more than thirty-two times its budget.

Would I buy this to own? I don’t think so, BUT this will be a great one to add to your list of movies to watch on demand if you’re planning on doing some kind of Halloween horror marathon.

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