“Unfriended” Delivers Simple But Effective Thrills

Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig) and her pals get seriously “trolled” when their online social lives are rudely interrupted by an uninvited guest. Horror ensues in this contemporary take on the found footage concept…

Unfriended, Found Footage Horror - Top 10 FilmsAesthetically sparse, Unfriended brings found footage horror to the world of social media, basing its entire story on the computer screen of Blaire Lily (Shelley Hennig) and her interaction with friends via various online platforms. From private messages on Facebook, to YouTube videos and Instagram photos, the story comes together – and takes a turn for the worst – when Blaire and co witness an uninvited guest enter their webcam group chat on Skype. Unable to remove the mysterious stranger, attentions begin to turn to the death of their former classmate who killed herself following an embarrassing video of her drunken antics going viral on the Internet.

Sometimes found footage can feel too staged; often in the horror genre you’d expect a character to run and hide not capture a perfectly framed shot of their aggressor. Unfriended takes the fundamentals of the approach and makes it work from the simple operations of a computer screen. Indeed, director Leo Gabriadze deserves a lot of credit for finding ways within social media and video sharing sites to create nerve wrangling tension. Who’d have thought that typing a message on Facebook could be so dramatic, or indeed, the collection of instant chat responses written then deleted until a favoured response is found.

It could quite easily become tedious watching someone click around their computer screen for 90 minutes but the fact Unfriended never feels like it’s dragging its heels is testament to the success of its execution. Gabriadze keeps his characters gripped to their seats, a bit like his audience, with a tangible sense of fear. They’re scared enough to close their computers and hide but they’re also terrified what might happen if they ignore their antogonist while being curious as to why they’re being summoned to this sadistic party.

Unfriended, Found Footage Horror - Top 10 Films

As well as the subtle stuff there’s some strong moments of terror that’ll satisfy any horror fans with a bloodlust but it’s definitely the simpler things that really work. One moment sees a friend’s webcam image seemingly freeze – their eyes staring lifelessly at the lens – but a phone call to them causes her mobile to vibrate in front of the camera revealing the girl is strangely transfixed as if in a trance. Elsewhere, another friend gets a fright when the filmmakers play on When A Stranger Calls’ opening, before a tense standoff involving a drinking game causes all hell to break loose. Unfriended is a contemporary horror that rewards thrill-seekers.

Unfriended - Four stars

Written by Dan Stephens

Unfriended, Found Footage Horror - Top 10 FilmsDirected by: Leo Gabriadze
Written by: Nelson Greaves
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki
Released: 2014 / Genre: Horror / Country: USA / IMDB
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Top 10 Found Footage Horror Films

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Wendell Reply

    Funny how people can have such varying thoughts after watching the exact same movie. I hated this movie largely because I think it does something you specifically say it doesn’t. Watching our heroine point, click, and type is incredibly tedious and makes the film drag, drag, DRAG. I thought is was a brilliant premise, poorly executed.

  2. Avatar
    Callum Reply

    It was definitely better than I expected it to be. Probably worthy of 3 stars.

  3. Avatar
    Paragraph Film Reviews Reply

    Picked this up for a fiver at Tesco the other night. First Kermode then Dan giving this a decent write up – definitely worth a watch.

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