Saturday, July 21, 2018

Unfriended: Dark Web - Review

Oddly enough, 2014’s Unfriended, the supernatural horror where a ghost haunts a handful of horrible people through their computers, has managed to get a sequel. The ghoulish elements are dropped in favor of something far more real, if not a little unrealistic at times, the results of which possess a fair share of effective moments.

After finding a laptop, a young man goes online to play a game with five of his good friends. He shows them a mysterious folder that plays disturbing videos of people who appear to be in danger. They then receive an anonymous message that tells them they will all die if they disconnect or call the police. The planned night of fun quickly turns deadly as each user becomes the target of something sinister while the others watch helplessly in terror.

Fortunately, Dark Web handles the delivery method of scares and creepiness just as well as its predecessor, using the “real time” computer screen to its advantage. Unfortunately, the plot relies so heavily on characters making dumb horror movie decisions that it’s a wonder how they aren’t killed sooner. The omnipresent nature of those working through the Dark Web feels like a nightmare written for those who were, or currently are, covering their cameras out of fear that someone is interested in their mundane day-to-day life.

It must be said, however, that the gimmick of a computer screen for an entire film is an effective tool. Creating a sense of dread from the sound of a notification is immensely clever, and the ability to show everything in real time makes the film move at a brisk pace. Much like the first film, an emphasis is placed on the deaths of the unlucky individuals of this night. Some are better than others in terms of terror, but all use the Dark Web and the people that inhabit it as slasher type villains who manage to be everywhere and nowhere all at once.

Overall, Unfriended: Dark Web is not going to provide much in the way of memorable scares, but it will keep you satisfied for a quick 88 minutes. The gimmick of the computer screen being the only viewpoint for the entire runtime is effective and the source for most of the positive elements of the film. Where it loses some points is the way it can’t leave the clichés of dumb character decisions and omnipresent killers behind. It’s a kind of fun, largely illogical, little horror film that won’t stay in your mind beyond the time it takes to walk out of the theater.

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