It seems Hollywood finally has found a way of getting teens offline and in line. Just make a movie like Unfriended, where the entire 82-minute running time takes place in front of a computer screen. Blumhouse has done it again. As I say in my video review above, they have made a cheapie horror thriller that is virtually disconnected from human interaction and plugged into a cyber-age Friday The 13th-style Facebook fright fest. Let’s call it “Grand Googlenol.”
In Universal’s latest attempt to mint money from the cagey and unreliable teen audience, the studio has gone right to the heart of how kids today apparently communicate: in chatrooms, Google hangouts, Skype sessions — you name it, it’s here. Plot? What plot? It’s the one-year anniversary of the suicide of Laura, who took her own life after an embarrassing video surfaced online — a video spread virally by her so-called friends. Now they have gathered in an online hangout, expressing regret and, in an intense Truth or Dare game, revealing long-held secrets. But there’s a mysterious visitor who has joined them in this cyberspace hell hole. Going by the name Billie, this intruder has evil plans to hold them accountable for their past actions, and it is no spoiler alert to say, if you have seen this kind of film hundreds of times, that each of them is in danger of getting knocked off their keyboards and sent to oblivion.
Jason Blum, producer of such low-budget winners as the Paranormal Activity and superior Purge franchises, obviously hopes to start another, praying the teen audience will “friend” this concept — which was directed by Levan Gabriadze but felt more like it could have been helmed by Mark Zuckerberg. If you are computer-illiterate like me, this thing will give you a migraine. There’s not a moment when 12 things aren’t happening all at once on this cinematic laptop. It’s dizzying to watch. But it does have some genuine “scream out loud” moments and is stylishly made for what it is, and what it cost.
Stars Heather Sossaman, Matthew Bohrer, Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Will Peltz, Courtney Halverson and Jacob Wysocki are remarkably composed and properly hysterical spouting the usual kind of teen dialogue that feels like it was written by 35-year-olds (Nelson Greaves is the credited scripter). He also produced along with Timur Bekmanbetov, but this has exec producer Blum’s savvy touch all over it.
Do you plan to see Unfriended? Let us know what you think.