The last ten years have seen the medium of information consumption and socialization change perhaps more vastly than ever before in the history of film and television.
There are works which keep up with this change, and find a way to weave texting and social media into the diegesis of the work seemlessly–or at least intriguingly and in a way which enriches rather than distracts–such as the BBC Sherlock series. There are also works which fumble with the new mediums, thinking they can convey a text in much the same way they might a phone call, simply showing the screen for a frame, such as virtually every other work. Unfriended is the former by way of extended use of the latter.
I’m not sure what I expected going in, but the focus on a single computer screen for an hour and twenty three minutes, showing us the Skype-focused POV of the main character, worked beautifully. Part of the beauty is in keeping the movie to a fairly tight hour and twenty three minutes–any longer and it probably would have gotten tiresome. Instead, you are fully engaged as teenagers fight and bicker and are forced to confess their transgressions against one another all across a single computer screen as windows are opened, closed, minimized and moved. It’s not precisely the way I would have filmed the movie, but it is a wonderful way to tell the story.
Unfriended comes off as a bit of a vengeful ghost flick, and that, coupled with its modern trappings, gives it a Japanese-horror-flick vibe. But it’s true DNA is much more Slasher–teenagers drink and fuck and bicker and desert one another, and are picked off, one by one, by a revenant they have wronged even more than each other.
I would be lying if I said Unfriended was really new, but while the path is old he conveyance is sleek and reasonably modern, and that makes it quite enjoyable.