Unfriended (2014)
5/10
Unfriended
24 September 2015
Unfriended is a "desktop horror" film (I have just invented that term; if it becomes popular, please don't say it's my fault) in which the screenplay is developed on the screen of a computer with multiple applications employed as narrative tools in order to gradually build the story, which we see from the user's perspective. Unfriended employs authentic programmes and services as an integral part of the screenplay. The use of Chrome, Google, GMail, Facebook, Skype, Spotify and Chatroulette (among other ones) ends up bringing a moral lesson of a double intention: first, it points out the insecurity of "living" online, sacrificing privacy for convenience and amusement; and in second place, it's a strident manifest against "cyber-bullying", which has become one of the most serious social problems in 21st century (at least that's what the TV news want to make us believe -"TV news? What is that?", the new generations must be wondering). For the rest, I found Unfriended a tedious and repetitive experience which doesn't generate any horror, suspense and even less any concern for the antipathetic characters, uniquely identified by the flaws in their webcams and the volume with which they scream insipid dialogs. The "technological ghost" concept had previously been exploited in Asian films such as Pulse and One Missed Call, but Unfriended badly copies the ideas implemented in those movies. Its raising of "cyber horror" consists on an arbitrary hacking of applications and social networks, which magically works in order to avoid screenwriter Nelson Greaves the effort to solve a monotonous premise in a logical or interesting way. And this film definitely feels monotonous. Unfriended is basically the same as watching someone using the computer for 83 minutes. Sure, the Skype video-calls add a variety of characters and locations, at the same time they allow us fleeting glimpses of "terrifying" (translation: confusing) deaths, but the drama is so insipid and predictable that it would have been more entertaining to watch the main character playing a video game while her friends discuss with each other who lied to whom, or which one of them went to sleep with another one's girlfriend, or who published offensive comments on Facebook. Well, even watching someone playing Minesweeper would have been more interesting than that parade of foolishness. On the other hand, my advanced age might have avoided me from recognizing the realism of the digital interactions which are increasingly more important in the social life of contemporary young people. Maybe, the youngsters who live like the characters, conversing and insulting with each other through Skype, Facebook or Twitter might appreciate the details which were invisible to an old man like me. Talking about details, something which truly impressed me was the digital manufacture of Unfriended. The "screen on real time" illusion is amazing; the behavior of menus and windows is perfect; the cursor movements are fluid and very human. I even thought that Unfriended was truly "shot" through carefully planned screenshots, with some edition tricks to simplify the work; but the numerous credits of animators and composers (not of music, but digital compounds) reveal that everything is a perfect simulation. An excellent work of edition, design and animation; pity that it's included into such a boring and uninteresting film, which I can't recommend.
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