Now Showing: “Unfriended”


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Blaire (Shelley Hennig) and her friends attempt to scare away their anonymous chatter.

Lilly Ball, Asst. A&E Editor

The latest film in the “cyber-supernatural” genre, “Unfriended” will scare both horror fans and internet addicts alike. Despite the poor acting from its basically unknown cast, the film is gory enough to make audiences squirm, and is a strong statement against cyber bullying.

On the anniversary of the death of their classmate, Laura Barnes, six friends, Blaire Lily, Jess Felton, Ken Smith, Mitch Roussel, Val Rommel, and Adam Sewell, casually Skype call each other. Blaire and Mitch begin to receive cryptic messages from Laura’s Facebook account but dismiss it as a joke. As the call goes on, the group notices an anonymous account that has joined their call. After several attempts to remove the user, the group’s computers begin to malfunction, and the account begins to speak.

The account is under the username “Billie227,” Laura’s old skype account. Billie227 urges the group to play a game of “Never Have I Ever,” in which the loser dies, and round by round, the group’s dark secrets are revealed. As the game progresses, it becomes apparent that Laura killed herself because of an anonymous video that was posted online. The video, titled “Laura Barnes Kill Urself,” shows footage of Laura embarrassing herself while being heavily intoxicated at a party. Billie227 causes the group to turn against one another in order to seek revenge for Laura’s humiliation.

The entire film is presented through the computer screen of character Blaire’s laptop, including tabs, chats, etc. Mac users will recognize the familiar screen, making the film scarier because of the authenticity. Viewers get to see every click Blaire makes, as well as the process she goes through while messaging other characters, often deleting her messages and retyping them to form a message that says something completely different.

Though the cast’s acting is far from being Oscar worthy, it was interesting to see how they interacted with each other, just as normal teenagers do on social media. They message one another privately, gossiping about their friends, while simultaneously video chatting them all on Skype. Blaire often panics when her messages are ignored for more than five seconds, something I also do. I found myself relating to their interactions and internet use throughout the entire film, making it a bit scary for me to use my laptop and Skype account after I got home.

“Unfriended” heavily utilizes suspense and disgusting scenes of gore to scare its audiences, which forced me to cover my eyes in horror. (Those who have watched the trailer will know what I am talking about.) As a person who generally hates scary movies, the format of the film made it easier for me to watch and become interested in the plot. “Unfriended” never caused me to jump out of my seat with sudden noises or scary images, but it did mess with me psychologically, leaving me terrified to face any dark room alone.

As the entire story of what led up to Laura’s suicide is revealed, I realized just how easy it is for bullies to abuse social media and harass people online. Laura receives comments telling her to kill herself from people that she presumed were her friends, just because “everyone else was doing it.” Despite the horror that Blaire and her friends are going through, viewers begin to sympathize with Laura. “Unfriended” certainly shows the consequences (though extremely exaggerated) of cyberbullying through its chilling use of suspense and strong commentary on an issue that affects most high school students.