It is the first anniversary of the suicide of Laura Barnes, a girl relentlessly bullied for a video of her drunk and lying in her own filth. A group of friends start up a Skype conversation, but there is mystery person in the conversation. The gang try to remove this person, but to no avail as all attempts to remove them from the group chat prove futile. It turns out that this person has pretty sinister intentions for the teens.
Unfriended isn't as shockingly original as one would be led to believe as films like The Den (2013), Chatroom (2010) and even Paranormal Activity 4 were all set on (or heavily featured) a computer screen. However, Unfriended perhaps uses the unusual format to the best effect. The attention to detail is superb, with all the bookmarks and favourites on our central character's PC and with the various posters in the forums it is clear a lot of effort was made to make it seem authentic. Unfriended is a good film for the modern generation as it's one of the very few films that fully understands how the internet actually works.
What is perhaps most important is the film's central theme of online or cyber bullying. The internet is an anonymous world, anybody can make a comment or release a video that puts the subject in an embarrassing and problematic position. What makes the film quite unnerving and even scary is how easily these videos are spend and the victim becomes a subject of unbearable mockery. What's also deeply concerning is how the teens seem to lap this stuff up and become merciless tormentors. Whilst the scary stalker certainly makes for a frightening figure, it's the actions of the teens and their relentless bullying that is most chilling.
The film is set in real time and each of the actors are mostly on a separate window on the computer screen (the actors were all filmed in separate rooms to further increase the feeling that the teens are communicating online) and it really does work extraordinarily well as the film is genuinely quite tense and exciting. It's quite remarkable how unnerving it is seeing the words "Laura Bates is typing" on a computer screen. What is also worthy of great praise is the editing which manages to give a very real impression of someone using a computer. The performances are pretty good, Shelley Hennig (who was in the utterly dreadful Ouija) does a fine job in the main role.
The real world horror is more terrifying that the supernatural and whilst Unfriended may split its audience with its unusual format I feel it uses its format to great effect to create a genuinely chilling horror film.