The Cinefessions crew loves sharing their opinions on films, but not every movie can get the attention it deserves with a full review. Enter the Cinefessions’ Capsule Reviews. These capsule reviews cover five of the most important aspects of a film, which allow the crew to deliver their opinions on any movie clearly, decisively, and with brevity. These are not our full thoughts on any film, just a highlighting of the major pros and/or cons.
Story & Script
Unfriended is told entirely through social media, from Skype to Facebook to YouTube. Laura committed suicide one year ago after an embarrassing video of her went viral on YouTube. Her “friends” are all gathering up on Skype on night to video chat, but an unknown person has hacked into their chat, going by the name of Billie. Someone has also hacked into Laura’s Facebook account, and is sending the group cryptic and threatening messages. The friends start becoming seemingly possessed by someone or something and begin to commit suicide one by one. Billie claims responsibility, and plans on exposing all the secrets that these friends hold before killing them off one at a time.
The acting is solid across the board, and it helps make this found footage idea work. The major problem with the entire film, though, is the characters that are presented. There is no way this group of high school kids could possibly be this despicable, could there? God, I hope not, for the sake of humanity. Not one of these people are likable, and all of them have horrible secrets, so much so that it becomes unbelievable that they’re just high school aged kids. From infidelity to rape and rumor spreading to snitching to police, these “friends” are just horrible, unlikable people that I don’t care about. That’s the major problem here, and one that hurts the film severely.
What’s most amazing here is the fact that this gimmick of presenting the film as one long take of one of the character’s desktop actually works surprisingly well. Most of the action takes place over Skype, and everything feels entirely natural. The death scenes range from subtle to gory, with the violent deaths being the most entertaining to watch. Leo Gabriadze does an excellent job of taking a gimmick and making it feel legit, which should be commended.
Flesh hounds will be disappointed because the only skin in the flick comes in at the start of the film when the super gorgeous Shelley Hennig – playing Blaire, the lead – shows off some side boob and her panties in the start of a cyber sex scene with her boyfriend. Unfortunately they don’t go full hog with it, though, as the pair is interrupted by their friends, and it leaves the boyfriend, and the audience, wanting to see more. The gorehounds fare a little bit better, but due to the nature of video chatting on Skype, the death scenes tend to jump around a bit and just lag in general (which happens throughout, adding to the realism of the film, but taking a bit away from the effectiveness of the some of the death scenes).
I wouldn’t mind giving this another viewing in the far future because of how well the idea is executed. It would be interesting to see a sequel in the future, but I doubt that would happen.
This is a standard ghost revenge flick, but it’s told in a unique way that seems gimmicky at first, but is quickly legitimized by director Leo Gabriadze. The major problem here, though, and one that I cannot look past, is the characters that we are given. They’re despicable and unlikable, and I never cared whether they would live or die, I just wanted to know how they would be killed. I would have loved a harder “R” rating – more flesh and more carnage – but Unfriended is still a better outing than I expected, and if the premise intrigues you, I’d recommend giving it a viewing if you can rent it for cheap.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.