The Internet is an extremely powerful thing. When used for good, it can be an amazing tool that can be used for learning, entertainment, connecting with people and getting your opinion out to the world. However, the Internet has a very dark side that can have an everlasting effect on many people’s lives. This fact is well presented in the 2014 horror film, Unfriended.
I only discovered the film this morning on my boyfriends Now TV, and I’m very glad I did. I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but I found it a truly engaging, interesting and horrific film to watch. It’s been a while since I’ve found a new horror film to get my teeth into, and Unfriended fits the bill perfectly.
It’s a sad fact that the film was based on the real life suicide of Audrie Pott, who hung herself after she was filmed being sexually assaulted by three teenage boys, and unfortunately online bullying takes place everyday. The film, whilst obviously fictional in its representation of the spirit of someone tormented by their supposed friends coming back from beyond the grave to seek revenge on those who wronged her, really does play on your mind and make you think about the lengths people go to online to make someone’s life a living misery.
The story focuses on the suicide of a Laura Barns, and how on the anniversary of her suicide, her spirit comes back to life and unleashes revenge on six of her classmates. As the film unravels and Laura’s spirit manages to pull the truth from them, it comes to light that three people had a direct part to play in her eventual death. All six though had left messages encouraging Laura to kill herself on the video that caused her to take her own life, one that showed her drunk and lying unconscious in her own menstrual blood and excrement. They’re quite shocking scenes, and the negative reaction of people telling her she should kill herself is truly unsettling. If anything, it’s more unsettling than the violent deaths that are inflicted on her classmates Blaire, Mitch, Adam, Jess, Ken and Val.
At the end of the film, I found myself sympathising with Laura’s character and really having no empathy towards the other six characters, a funny turn of events really when you think about it as she is depicted as an evil villain at the very beginning. But it soon comes to life that Blaire’s admission of the six of them being ‘good people’ is really not true at all. They all have secrets, but they’re not your usual teenage secrets about someone fancying another person or having done something embarrassing. They’re extremely disturbing and dark, which slowly turned me against all of them.
I can’t emphasise how much Unfriended plays on your mind. I think this is mainly because, unlike a lot of other horrors, the main basis of the film happens everyday, with teenagers and even adults all over the world experiencing Internet bullying in one form or another. I think for me this was the scariest part of it all. With other horror films, as soon as the credits roll you can tell yourself that it was only a film, and after a few nights of disturbed sleep you will move on from what you watched. However, with Unfriended, you can’t do this, and you have to remember all of the people who have felt the need to take their lives due to insensitive and disgusting comments from other people written online.
For a low budget film that has no big Hollywood names, it’s a very well acted film and is a very cleverly filmed one at that. I love a bit of creative film marketing, and with Unfriended’s producers creating Facebook profiles of the main characters, as well as uploading YouTube videos shown in the film prior to cinematic release, it makes for an even more intriguing film experience.
If you haven’t already seen it and are looking for a new horror experience, I would highly recommend Unfriended. You may end up like me and hate all of the characters who were so cruel to Laura in the end, but that’s mainly because they represent the hundreds of cruel teenagers around the world who bully from behind a keyboard, thinking that their words won’t hurt and who see it all as a big joke. These people exist sadly, and that’s the real horror about Unfriended.