The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Unfriended | Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halvorsen,Will Peltz | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Unfriended | Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Jacob Wysocki, Courtney Halvorsen,Will Peltz | Review

You heard it here first:  Unfriended is The Blair Glitch Project.

That’s what I’m calling this ghost in the machine horror show that takes place entirely on a computer monitor – all 82 minutes of it.  Pretty long for a cyber chat, but just long enough for the blood to start flowing.

Beginning with the suicide of fellow classmate Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) after the circulation of an extremely embarrassing video, six of her teen friends discover a malevolent entity lurking within their Skype’d conversations.

Blair (Shelley Hennig), Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) Jess (Renee Olstead) Ken (Jacob Wysocki) Val (Courtney Halvorsen) and Adam (Will Peltz) find an uninvited guest among their gossipy gang, but nothing can be done to make the intruder leave.  It communicates with taunts and mysterious, mild threats – at first.  “You don’t want to do that” it declares when one of the group tries to delete it.

The list of its demands grows, demonstrated by the group’s increasingly panicked (and unsuccessful) maneuvers to remove it.  There are implied consequences; it will not be ignored.

You WILL pay attention.  You WILL NOT unfriend me.  You WILL all play a game or you WILL die.  Count on it.  

There’s a countdown, too, effectively portrayed primarily in audio effects to hype up suspense, along with a youthful WTF factor that is unsettling.

The entity’s gradual reveal, its purpose and intentions, and its unstoppable, unseen power gives the viewer a sense of mounting dread, while incorporating glitchy computer graphics to heighten the sense of the grotesque as one by one, the teens meet incomprehensible and violent consequences.

Director Levan Gabriadze (Lucky Trouble) helms a uniquely original visual of a narrative in that it is one long screen shot with video images and text messages simultaneously appearing in real time (with side chats).  His supernatural cautionary tale about cyber bullying proves that we are indeed in the 21st century with all of its technological implications and responsibilities.

The no-name cast helps make this anonymous enough to insert your own group into the mix and should resonate especially well with youthful audiences.  The impact of grotesque images of attractive, popular teens (sometimes dropping F-bombs like napalm) while facing the unexpected consequences of deceitful acts, secret trysts, and monumental betrayals illustrates the ripple effect of one bad decision when allowed to flourish in pixels and bandwidth.

Moving swiftly to its very predictable ending, Unfriended gets a bit cliché at times when the gang gets frenzied and their dialogue is limited almost solely to profanity.  One of the scenes of “comeuppance” shall we say, is almost comical, which breaks up the terrifying momentum that’s been so carefully crafted.

Though not an original subject or premise, the film’s originality comes from viewing it within the confines of a computer monitor, its square dimensions like the borders of some vast cyber-country full of one word commands.

Chat. Tweet. Snap. Like. Post. Share. Unlike. Unfriend. Delete... Die.


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