Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Review: Unfriended - Dark Web

Unfriended: Dark Web
Cert: 15 / 93 mins / Dir. Stephen Susco / Trailer

As long-time readers will attest, I'm generally weary of 'horror' as a genre, or studio-horror at least, so pleasant surprises are few and far between. That said, there have been two this year alone, and there's always room on the shelf for another glowing (or throbbing?) recommendation…

And so, writer/director Stephen Susco brings us Unfriended: Dark Web. Not a sequel in the true sense of the word, it is nonetheless a stylistic followup to 2015's Unfriended, where intriguing film-making leapt the hurdle of implausible storytelling.

The whole film is once again presented within the confines of a single computer screen, with all of the events taking place in real-time over text-chats, Facebook, Skype, YouTube videos and all of those various other things the kids are into now. When a young man 'acquires a second-hand laptop', the content he finds on the hard-drive soon implicates him in a web he can't escape, and threatens to bring down his friends, too.

Thinking about the film as a 'sequel' (although the mechanics of the first movie dictate that this one stands alone on some level), I'm glad that the supernatural element has been dropped this time. Unfriended just about got away with it by means of the film's presentation, but twice really would be a push (plus, Friend Request underlined how the same story really doesn't stand up to any amount of scrutiny, even for a ghost movie).

For me in particular, the whole ensemble were effectively unknown actors, so that helped sell the Found Footage 2.0 aesthetic. There are solid performances all-round for such a small cast, and an outstanding one from Colin Woodell as Matias who holds the whole thing together. He effectively gives a 90-minute, solo performance audition tape covering All The Emotions. From a technical point-of-view, this film is outstanding.

There are certain aspects of the in-movie-technology which have to be adapted slightly for the sake of fluid storytelling of course, and it all gets a bit shark-jumpy in the final few minutes, but the film has more than earned it by that point with its sheer persistence of escalation. Tightly written, intricate without coming across as too convoluted. And it's a well-assembled film in the vein of the early Saw entries, although the presentation format means this is a one for the online multi-tasking generation.

Surprisingly, it's far more satisfying (as a horror-movie) than the first Unfriended, and shows up Searching for the twee, maudlin procedural that it is. Much like Hostel, there's little in here that couldn't actually happen, give or take the Da*ly-Ma*l waves of hysterical techno-paranoia and insane amount of coordination on display. Because while the actuality of the plot mechanics are up for debate, if you're not intrigued or disturbed by the thought processes behind the writing, you're not fucking paranoid enough, frankly...

Unfriended: Dark Web is, In the nicest possible way, a nasty little film.

So, what sort of thing is it similar to?
Well, Unfriended, but moreso.

Is it worth paying cinema-prices to see?
It is.

Is it worth hunting out on DVD, Blu-ray or streaming, though?
It is.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Well, we'll watch this space with great interest…

Will we disagree about this film in a pub?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yeah but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Douglas Tait's in this, and he was in that Star Trek with Simon 'the voice of Dengar when he fell of a train at the first sign of a fight and said Ahh Poodo!' Pegg.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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