Cybernatural, the original title of the latest Blumhouse production (they are proud to constantly remind audiences they produced Paranormal Activity, Insidious and The Purge), was more evocative and stupid. Rated R and not unproductively gimmicky, Unfriended is done no favors by its release so close to the actually excellent horror film, It Follows.
On the year anniversary of a classmate’s suicide, a group of high school seniors join a group chat with an unwanted guest. Is it someone playing a bad joke? Such a move is not below that girl, Val (Courtney Halverson). Or is it the vengeful spirit of Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), the dead acquaintance who was devastated by the online leaking of an embarrassing video?
The gimmicky movie all takes place on the computer of nice girl Blaire (Shelley Henning, Ouija), and points for using real apps and programs (no Faceranges here).
Unfriended is mostly effective and occasionally scary, despite seeming to have been written with a middle schooler’s idea of what high school and a horror movie are like. The plot-changing narrative device is a deadly version of the drinking game, Never Have I Ever. Truth or Dare must be too old school, though the overused revelation of everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets apparently is not.
Unfriended is less a bad horror movie than an above-average film populated by infuriating “teenage” characters who elevate Jason Voorhees’ walking-dead victims to a second dimension. This flick struggles for identity; which horror subgenre does it wish to update more? It has slasher victims in a supernatural scenario, all framed by a digital world. I would recommend The Den for horror fans seeking an even better take on this found-footage twist.