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Unfriended” touches on a nerve, and not just the one that makes you kick and scream.

The revenge horror movie certainly isn’t revolutionary, but the premise of “Unfriended”–the cyber bullying, the cold detachment of technology, and the ability take lives with the single press of the ‘record’ button–is all too terrifying and real.


On what was supposed to be a casual Skype hangout, Blaire (Shelly Henig) and her friends are harassed by an unknown Skype user who has somehow managed to hack into their call and can’t be kicked out. It is soon revealed the unwanted guest is none other than the vengeful spirit of Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), who had taken her own life exactly one year prior. The group of very dramatic teens, who also clearly lack a moral compass, are picked off one by one.

The entirety of “Unfriended” is told through Blaire’s desktop screen. Terror unfolds through Skype, Facebook, Google, Youtube, CamGirl pop ups, and the overcrowded mess that is an unkept Recycle Bin. Even the pinwheel of death makes a cameo.


The restrictive view of the desktop and each character’s webcam performs surprisingly well. The boundaries of the frame succeeds in enhancing, rather than reducing, the scares and jolts and viewers are left feeling as trapped as the teenage characters.

But here lies the true horror: the reasoning behind Laura’s suicide, the difficulty with which Blaire and her friends try to connect, and the role of technology and internet culture which plays into it all.

In “Unfriended,” Laura Barns is driven to suicide after someone uploads a humiliating video of her online. The video shows her drunk and picking fights and then passed out behind a trailer where Laura, in her drunkenness, has sullied her shorts. The video post is quickly accompanied by a slew of anonymous comments shaming Laura and telling her to just kill herself–which she does. The footage of her suicide, where she shoots herself in the face, is also posted afterwards.


The familiar narrative vehicles used in “Unfriended” also adds to the realness terror (and admittedly the humor, too). For instance, when Blaire tries to find help, she immediately goes to Chatroulette where she encounters perverts, stoners, and just bored plain people–the usual denizens of Chatroulette.

The slew of social media platforms which make an appearance in “Unfriended” grant a hint as to why these high schoolers have a hard time connecting or just plain acting like decent human beings. The ability to edit your reactions or hide behind a wall of digital anonymity plays a large role in the cruelty behind “Unfriended.” Anyone who’s ever visited the hive of scum and villainy that is the Youtube comment section knows what I’m talking about.


Whether director Levan Gabriadze and writer Nelson Greaves meant to create a film which merges horror fantasy with issues a little too close to home, “Unfriended” can certainly feel real.

Gore and spirits may be the work of an editing team but cyber bullying certainly isn’t. “Unfriended” shows anyone can make a horror story out of reality with a camera, a keyboard, and some mean words to say.

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