Unfriended: Movie Review

Unfriended, is a found footage movie, but not as we know it. It’s filmed in the point of view perspective, of the main character, Blaire’s MacBook, while she Skype video chats, with 5 of her high school friends.

The basic jist of the film here, is… A girl gets cyber bullied, to the point of killing herself, after a video of her, having a drunken mishap at a party, is posted on YouTube. On the first anniversary of her death, comes back to get some good old-fashioned revenge… But this isn’t just another film, re-telling the story, about how a group of friends, get haunted by a vengeful spirit… This is quite clever, and its own way, quite unique.

We’re introduced to the movie, by a live leak video, showing a girl, called Laura Barnes, committing suicide. And then shown the video of her having the previously discussed, drunken mishap, at a high school, house party.

Main protagonists Blaire, and her five friends, who are 2 girls, called Val, and Jess, and 3 guys, called Ken, Adam, and Mitch, are video chatting on Skype. After they’ve all greeted each other, they very quickly realise, there is someone else in the private, group video chat with them, and they’re not alone. The person has a plain blue avatar, and no matter what they try, they can’t disconnect this person from the call. They first dismiss it as a glitch, but then the glitch starts to send typed, instant messages to the group. Blaire and the others, receive vicious threat messages, from the mystery person, saying if they hang up, they will die.

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One of the girls, decides that she has had enough, and does hang up. In front of everyone, she is made an example of.

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And in true ‘Saw’ type style, tells them, they’re going to play a game of ‘Never Have I Ever’ and the first to lose will die… and then the next one to lose after that, and so forth, until there is one left. Then, just before they start playing, the person reveals who’s really behind this online assault. The group choose to not believe this, and the assailant turns out everyone’s lights.

Terrified out of their wits, they begin the game. They are all asked, varied questions, of a very intimate nature, designed to turn them against each other. It works to great effect. One by one, they run out of fingers, and again, each person that loses, is made an example of to the rest, in a more brutal fashion than the last, until one remains. A big mistake made by the sole survivor, in their past is posted online, for the world to see, and where it lays, forever it will stay. Forever haunted by their lies and wrong doings.

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What is important about this film, is theme, or message of it working as a deterrent to online/cyber bullying, as. It is a harsh, real life reflection, of the lengths some people will go to, when they’re pushed over edge, and feel there is no way out, but suicide.

The acting is of a high standard and a credit to the film. You really feel the terror they’re feeling, and the emotional pain and anguish they’re going through. The dialogue is relevant too, and works well for the nature of the film. Visually, it flows well, from video chat as a group, to direct messages, between different members of the group. The way this aspect of the film is out together, is really quite clever. It helps in bringing out the characters personalities, traits and flaws. The more the film goes on, I found myself switching from thinking, ‘oh my god, these poor teenagers, are being stalked, and are scared out of their minds’, to then finding out, more about the group, and realising, they’re actually a collective bunch, of back stabbing bastards… And ultimately, started rooting for the so-called ‘villain’. With teen horrors, you run the risk of turning the whole film into one big cliché, but the writer and director manage to avoid this, which made me very happy. It’s a solid film.

Negatives that I could pull from the film, would be that during the Skype video chat segments, on each of the characters there is constant 5 second burst of a grainy webcam and lag. Here and there, would be ok, but it’s constant through the whole film and it’s incredibly annoying. More is not always better. I understand that they would want to feature this, to try, and make it look as realistic as possible… But it’s too much.

The production company behind this film, Blumhouse Productions, have definitely got the formula nailed, when it comes to found footage movies. Movies, that in monetary terms, can be made for next to nothing, as far as making movies goes, and will make a huge profit at the box office. Previous success with found footage film, has been with such titles as, the Paranormal Activity franchise, and Ouija, to name but a few. In the instance of Unfriended, the movie in its entirety, was made for around $1,000,000, and took in an estimated $38,000,000 in the U.S alone. That’s a massive return on their investment.

It’s no wonder then, that a sequel is already being made, and will arrive in 2017. An exact date is still to be confirmed.

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Amityville – The Awakening: January 2017 Release

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This year, there has been a bit of a buzz around the 1974 murder house, 112 Ocean Drive, in Amityville, and this time, not for anything in any way sinister. The current owners have put it up for sale at $800,000 U.S.

But wait for it… There is also another horror film, set at the house, on its way to us, in the form of the Franck Khalfoun directed ‘Amityville: The Awakening’, and is scheduled for cinematic release on January 6th, 2017, which is really, subject to change. It has changed twice already. The film wrapped in 2014, and when the initial trailer dropped, a release date was set as January 2nd, 2015. It was to be delayed, and the new release was set for April 15th, 2016. It then got bumped forward, to April 1st, and then delayed even further, to the date we have now, being January 6th , 2017.

Being curious as to just how many films have been made in the name of ‘The Amityville Haunting, I turned my attention to Wikipedia. Including the very disappointing, Michael Bay produced, 2005 remake/reboot (of the original, classic, 1979 film), which featured Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George as Mr and Mrs Lutz…, this will be the 15th installment, of the Amityville franchise of films.

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In November 1974, Ronnie DeFeo Jr, aided by a hunting rifle, shot and killed 6 members of his family, while they slept. He claimed he heard voices that told him to do it, and that he was possessed.

But we’ve gone off track here a little. Let’s get back ,to talking about ‘The Awakening’.

When you watch the trailer below, you may agree that the plot of the film… reeks of familiarity. A family in need of a fresh start… They move into the new dream home at 112 Ocean Drive, and can’t believe they got it so cheap… the daughter who is in high school, finds out about the DeFeo murder massacre in the 70’s… And then all the haunting happens. Sure, they’ve tried to throw in a curve ball, and mix it up, and have the character, who plays the son, very ill, in a hospital bed, receiving home treatment. Something similar, was done in another blumhouse produced picture, called ‘Insidious’, when the eldest son, goes into a coma, and is in a hospital bed, receiving home treatment. That film starred Patrick Wilson. He is also in the very recently released ‘The Conjuring 2’. And the first 15 minutes of that film… Are about the Amityville haunting. And that was produced by Blumhouse as well. Can you see a pattern emerging here? Anyway, here is the trailer.

My expectations then, for this film, are already quite low. A predictable plot, and I can only imagine, it will be full of forced jump scares, like every other modern horror film at the moment… The only hope I have for this film, is that the character development is somewhat decent, and it isn’t full of romantic sub-plots, that will further distract the telling of the ‘real story’ (if such a thing exists), and further ruin the film.

The eye candy for the film, is provided, in the form of the beautiful, Bella Thorne, who starred as the character ‘Nina’, in the first season, of Wes Cravens, 90’s slasher classic, Scream: The TV Series, which started last year on Netflix and is now in irs 2nd season. Alongside her, is Jennifer Jason Leigh, who played Daisy in Tarantino’s most recent title, ‘The Hateful Eight’, and starred in countless other brilliant films. Check out her IMDB page.

With this one then, I would say, try and be optimistic. I could be completely wrong, and it’ll be a masterpiece.  Something inside is telling me, that it won’t be, and it will be yet another, unnecessary film about 112 Ocean Drive, in Amityville.