Granger on Movies: 'Unfriended'
Like the "found footage" of "The Blair Witch Project" (1999), this is a gimmick picture. It's a cautionary tale of a group of high school friends who become the target of an unseen cyber-stalker.
What makes it unique is that it's shot while looking at a computer screen. The teenagers communicate through Skype with back-story information handled through texts and online searches. Even the soundtrack is comprised of tunes stored on one of the computers.
The stream-of-consciousness story takes place in real time on the Apple desktop of popular, virginal Blaire (Shelley Hennig), who starts to receive mysterious Facebook messages from the account of her former BFF Laura Barnes (Heather Sossamon), who committed suicide exactly a year earlier by shooting herself in a parking lot. Laura was humiliated when a prank video of her was anonymously posted on YouTube and circulated online.
Faced with this taunting, enigmatic entity seeking vengeance, Blaire is obviously conflicted. She says one thing to a friend on Skype, while she contradicts herself in text messages to someone else.
Multi-tasking Blaire's on-line cohorts include her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm), yuppie Adam (Will Peltz), wisecracking Ken (Jacob Wysocki), vain Jess (Renee Olstead) and volatile Val (Courtney Halverson).
Bazelevs writer/producer Nelson Greaves and Russian director Levan Gabriadze utilize the ubiquitous WiFi and social media to develop the horror movie theme, which is tediously similar to Agatha Christie's thriller "And Then There Were None."
Their point is that, while we use passwords to maintain the illusion of safety in our online spaces, they're useless when creepy hackers take over, resulting in cyberbullying.
Surprisingly, what never occurs to any of the participants is that they can simply turn their computers off and take a break from the screaming hysterics.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Unfriended" is an unnerving, flashy 4, delving into internet-obsessed teens' daily digital lives.
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