Review: Unfriended

Our lives are so integrated with social media these days that the thought of a film that unfolds entirely over a Skype conversation isn't particularly surprising. Unfriended, a micro-budget project from Blumhouse Productions, is a savvy genre picture that taps into the technology at our fingertips and flips the likes of Skype, Messenger, YouTube, Spotify and other every-day social favourites into tools of terror.

The first major project from scribe Nelson Greaves, Unfriended follows a group of six high school friends video-chatting on a night which coincides with the first anniversary of a classmates suicide. An unidentifiable person soon joins the chat, which takes a turn for the worst as ghostly technology, the supernatural, and dark secrets rear their ugly heads.

Unfriended puts a bold and contemporary spin on the cyberbullying narrative by using our associations with contemporary technology to make the familiar terrifying. Director Levan Gabriadze manages to turn the noise of a Facebook notification or a Skype dialling tone into dreadful signifiers of impending horror, whilst seeing "_____ is typing," or simply waiting for a chat response becomes a nerve-shredding experience.

Injecting these tools with a supernatural presence allows Gabriadze to have some grisly fun in Unfriended. A possessed Spotify playing tracks like How You Lie, Lie, Lie, to parallel the heated narrative events, or using platforms like YouTube to publicly reveal our mean protagonist's dirty little secrets has a real cathartic pleasure. There's also a clever suspense pulsing throughout Gabriadze's film by using Skype to slowly unveil the death scenes. Characters must watch helplessly as this unknown force toys with them, each unable to help the other. There is some gruesome imagery throughout these death scenes, delivered in short sharp bursts against a backdrop of signal loss or bold static crackling.

Whilst the character drama may get slightly over-the-top in the final act, there is convincing acting throughout with the cast consistently impressive as their obnoxious teen counterparts. Will Peltz shines as the somewhat unhinged Adam, whilst Heather Sossaman is excellent as the sweet protagonist Laura.

Unfriended is a real game-changer that turns everyday technology into sources of terror. In a year of so-so horror (thus far), Unfriended sits at the top of the pile alongside It Follows.

DirectorLevan Gabriadze
StarsHeather Sossaman, Will Peltz & Moses Storm
UK Release: 1st of May

Will Peltz 6066143427839961123

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