Plot: What’s it about?
The internet has changed the way we talk, think and communicate and I’m tempted to say it’s for the better. Then again I could be mistaken. It’s hard to think of a time before we had access to everything at our fingertips. I often think to myself “what did I used to do?” Still, love it or hate it – the internet is here to stay and today’s kids have grown up with it. I remember talking on the phone with my friends in high school and college, but today everyone’s got a laptop and Skype, so you don’t only hear the person, but can see them as well. It’s like something out of a 1950’s science-fiction movie! And for every video about kittens or seeing someone fall on their face, countless others are out there that are no doubt embarrassing to their subjects. But what happens when a video goes too far? That’s the premise behind Unfriended, so let’s log on….
Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) has had a video of herself posted on YouTube. It was embarrassing and humiliating and forced her to take her own life (also broadcast on YouTube). Her friends mourned her death, but have moved on. Dating couple Mitch (Moses Storm) and Blaire (Shelley Hennig) are having a late night chat when she reveals to him that she wants prom night to be “the night” (I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that means). But before their session gets too steamy, the usual suspects join in the Skype chat. Jess (Renee Olstead), Adam (Will Peltz), Ken (Jacob Wysocki) and Val (Courtney Halverson) crash the party but are disturbed by a mysterious online guest that they just can’t shake. As time progresses, they discover this “person” claims to be their deceased friend, Laura. Threats are made, police are called and people start, well, dying. Is this supernatural presence who they say they are and is anyone safe?
I have to admit that this movie plays out in the most close approximation of real time more than any other film I’ve seen. It’s got a very unique look and feel to it (see below) as well and if you’re at all familiar with internet technology, you’ll be at home here. Then again might be argued that this is mere product placement for Apple computers, YouTube, Skype and Facebook. You be the judge. Admittedly it’s a chance of pace from the movies I usually see and it wasn’t until Universal picked this film up (originally entitled Cybernatural) that it found distribution rights. Admittedly I’m not the type of person who Skype’s late at night with anyone or constantly posts videos to YouTube, but I realize that there are plenty out there that do. Just remember, next time you post a video, there might be a supernatural presence out there that might make you stick your hand in a blender or stick a curling iron down your throat. You’ve been warned.
Video: How’s it look?
Often in this section I’m almost complaining since most every “new to Blu-ray” film looks so good that I run out of words to describe how wonderful they all look. Well, that’s not the case with this movie and, to be fair, it’s not really a fault of the disc or the manufacturing process. Unfriended is like watching a movie on your laptop. The entire film is based around windows (Mac) floating on a computer screen. The video seems to break up and pixelate that’s common with programs like Sykpe. The lighting is poor and it’s meant to be. There’s really not one scene that deviates from this setup. Still, when looking at it from a purely technical level, the quality just isn’t that good. For kicks, I popped the included DVD in as well just to see what it looked like and it looked just about the same. I realize that the look they were going for was what we saw, but comparing it against new, filmed movies is no comparison at all.
Audio: How’s it sound?
Likewise, the included DTS HD Master Audio track isn’t really anything special either. Again, I realize that the environment the filmmakers were trying to reproduce doesn’t call for a lot of ambient sound. Those familiar with the little clicks and notification sounds will feel at home. The ever-present clicks and whirrs of Skype are faithfully reproduced and as for vocals, they sound about average. There’s some noticeable distortion in the characters’ voices, but it’s what was intended. There are a couple of “gotcha” moments which, I’m assuming, every horror movie feels the need to have. Still, when looking at this as a whole, it just doesn’t sound that great (and again, I realize it wasn’t supposed to).
Supplements: What are the extras?
In a strange move, this disc actually includes zero extras. Not even a trailer, folks.
- DVD/Digital Copy
The Bottom Line
Watching Unfriended is certainly a new experience and it really didn’t feel like a movie in that most of the traditional elements seem to be lacking. At the very least, it shows how “connected” today’s youth are to their devices and how the style of communication has changed from chatting on the phone to, well, everything exemplified in this film. The DVD/Blu-ray don’t really look or sound that great and feature no supplemental material. Die hard fans might want to pick up a copy, but it’s a very tough recommendation. Maybe wait about six months and you can find it in the $4.99 bin at Best Buy or Target.