Unfriended was Agonizing to Watch
Directed by: Levan Gabriadze (as Leo Gabriadze)
Written by: Nelson Greaves
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halverson, Heather Sossaman
Running time: 82 minutes
Rated R for violent content, pervasive language, some sexuality, and drug and alcohol use – all involving teens
Unfriended unfolds over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for a shaming video that led a vicious bully to kill herself a year earlier. – Universal Pictures
The first thing I have to say about this movie is that it was agonizing to watch. The film itself should come with a trigger warning for just about everything, from the indifferent toward suicide to simply having to endure 80 minutes of vapid teenagers attempting to communicate with each other. It literally felt like the film was three times longer than it really was. In concept, on paper, the premise and execution are interesting, and even possibly good. In practice and in execution they turn out to be difficult to watch, uninteresting and even irritating. I have never watched a horror film and silently begged for every single character to die, quickly, off screen. It can be not only fun, but also satisfying for despicable characters to “get what is coming to them”, but only if we have at least one likable, or sympathetic character to root for. It is actually a very important aspect of any horror film; you need someone you want to survive, or at the very least characters that are charismatic and engaging that you want to watch up until they receive a deserved and agonizing death. Now getting back to the trigger warning that should have come with this film, the entire movie is from the perspective of one character’s computer screen. Literally, you watch as she opens and closes programs, types, deletes, re-types chat messages, browses and Goggles. It was infuriating to watch as someone that has spent years working in the IT field. I don’t feel like the filmmakers took this film seriously, if they did, I question their ability and judgement as filmmakers.
One final thing to add, something Kaitlyn and I discussed after watching this. The filmmakers had the opportunity to take on the issue of cyberbullying among teenagers in a significant way. Beyond the ghost of an awful girl comes back for revenge on the awful friends that bullied her, just as they bully each other. They dealt with the issue in the same callous way they dealt with suicide, as fodder for cheap entertainment as if it were a complete non-issue.
This is not a movie I would even casually recommend viewing, at any time, for any reason.