Review by Lauryn Angel
Unfriended: Dark Web is exactly what it appears to be from the trailers: a horror movie in which all of the protagonists meet a grisly end. In fact, most of the story is pretty obvious from the trailer. A young man takes a laptop that has been sitting in the lost and found of a cyber-café for weeks. Young man hacks the laptop’s security and uses it to Skype his friends. Over the course of the evening, the group discovers increasingly disturbing files on the laptop, embroiling them in circumstances better left alone.
This movie is not related in any way story-wise to Unfriended; instead the connection comes through the way both films use technology and social media as a story-telling device. In this instance, Skype and the Dark Web are the impetus for a new take on the “found-footage” style of horror film. We the audience are in a sense eavesdropping on the events unfolding via our very-large screen. While many of the things that happen seem unrealistic – a mysterious figure causing the connection to glitch exactly where he appears on the screen and nowhere else – these things are explained away by the idea that this person’s technical prowess far exceeds our own, a device which likely satisfies most of the film’s target audience.
However, the story itself doesn’t do the story-telling device enough justice to merit this movie a completely positive review. Matias (Colin Woodell), the young man who took the laptop from the café, is not a particularly likeable character. He’s introduced to us through his attempts to unlock the laptop, and when he eventually does break in, his actions betray a lack of tech savvy that undermines the story’s claims that he’s proficient with computers. Matias is a stupid young man who does not know how to cover his tracks. But then, if he covered his tracks, we wouldn’t have a horror movie.
Matias’s friends aren’t much more sympathetic, and in fact, are so stereotypical that it almost felt like I was checking off a list. There’s AJ (Connor Del Rio), the zany conspiracy nut who runs an anti-government podcast. Damon (Andrew Lees) is the nerdy tech guy who advises Matias how to try to outwit the antagonist. Lexx (Savira Windyani) is the hipper-than-thou member of the group, who works as a dj. Serena(Rebecca Wittenhouse) and Nari (Betty Gabriel) are a newly-engaged couple who offer good advice, but are roundly ignored. Finally, there’s Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), Matias’s girlfriend, who is completely oblivious to what’s going on, but serves as the potential victim the killer attempts to use as leverage over Matias.
Unfriended: Dark Web has some interesting plot devices and a clever use of technology, but is ultimately too stereotypical for its own good.