Building a consistent story within the narrow limits of a computer screen, that’s clever. Absolutely no argument there. Still, the idea isn’t as new as some think it is. A while ago, two Canadian filmmakers already used this process in a short film named Noah. And it was quite good actually, making the hopes around Unfriended even higher. Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram : here are the leading actors of this small, low-browed, horrific production meant to use every numeric phobia available on the market. Sadly, there’s kind of huge gap between a numeric fear and an actual one. As a result to this, even the illusion of an innovative directing isn’t strong enough to keep the flame alive. When the final credit pops up, only the brutal fact remains : well done, you’ve just lost an hour and a half of your precious life.
The way computer technologies have been transcribed by cinema or television always been quite paradoxical. When it’s not a movie explicitly about one entity in particular (just like Fincher’s Social Network for instance), it mostly fades into something snooty, always trying to look smart by using an array of poor CGI, making the all thing even more ridiculous. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the virtual world has always been despised on the big screen. Most of the time, it’s representation stops at a grotesque performance, a mimic best case scenario. When a guy is supposed to play video game, the only thing we usually see in an under-paid poor actor assaulting an unplugged controller like a mad man. Same thing with the office-NERD who’s mastering the art of dactylography with one hand, blindfolded, and being of the phone with the babysitter at the same time. Cliche, cliche, and more cliches. This is the state of where we are. So yes, in a way, Unfriended starts with a great surprise, because it doesn’t have the pretension to show you a use of the internet any different than yours or mine. There’s a connection with the everyday-digital-life no one can deny. As for the spice-up, Levan Gabriadze chose to turn those tools we all came to know and love, against the user. Once again, the idea isn’t new, it’s called cyber-harassment, and in this case, it’s supposed to be the source of at least an acceleration of your heartbeat. But guess what ? Nothing happens. Nada. The story follows a group of teenagers, reuniting online to commemorate the demise of their late friend Laura, who killed herself a year ago after a pretty humiliating video was posted online. You could see the young girl passed out, covered of her own fecal matter. Soon, the friendly conversation is turning ugly as someone, claiming to be Laura, joins the conversation and starts killing everyone, blaming them for the girl’s suicide.
Smell this ? And I’m not talking about the brown gift left by the dead girl, but the noxious aroma of the story line, pretty much set to be one more pseudo-horrific production released into the wild. The frustration is even more painful, because it’s easy to grasp what the film could have been. What it should have been. While there was clearly something to do with cyber-harassment and its devastating consequences (a matter sadly very much alive there days), Unfriended is instead deeply muddled into some second-handed mechanics. It’s an umpteenth reenactment of what’s already been made five, ten, twenty years ago. Even when you watch it with your brain off (not much of a choice there), it’s still a grotesque accumulation of stereotypes. The bimbo, the best-friend, the cool guy, the outcast, even the culprit, the revelation of the true killer. The all thing needed more balls, a real vision. I don’t know what’s the saddest thing : the fact that we’re facing another low-inspired teen horror movie, or the idea that some people (myself included) thought it was somehow going to be anything else. Well, anything more in this case. Don’t get me wrong, I love this kind of movies. I love the self-mockery, the screaming girl, the masked serial killer, and the best friend who dies in the final scene. But Unfriended lacks the charm. It’s not a good horror movie, it’s not going to be a popcorn classic, and it’s not a decent story about cyber-harassment. But at this point, Universal Studios couldn’t care less. From the initial million dollars engaged for production, the studio already got more than fifty-five. Quality 0 – 1 Money.
Par Sholid le