Quickie 42 – Unfriended (2014)

or “The Phantom Skyper”

Okay, so the concept behind Unfriended is a novel one. It’s a ghost story that unfolds in real time as shown on a high school girl’s MacBook. For starters, when this movie came out, I probably would’ve judged it harshly (and kinda did until watching it) based on its cast of young people doing young people things. I’ve given up lumping all people younger than myself as obnoxious idiots though, because that’s what assholes do. Not fun assholes either, I mean the types of assholes who laugh at school age people protesting gun violence because THEY’RE THE ONES MOST ENDANGERED BY IT. Said assholes will have their follies rubbed in their bloated behind-the-times faces though, because those “children” are coming of voting age in a society that turned their back on them and 2020 is going to be an “interesting” show…

That’s enough political shit. Let’s distract ourselves with some fake horror!

“Obvious troll is obvious.” – Ken

Laura Barns was just another high school student in the US of A until last year, when she publicly committed suicide in what would later be revealed as a response to bullying on social media. The tragedy was caught on video and uploaded to the internet, because why the fuck not. You don’t need the “dark web” to delve into the darkness of the human condition when we’ve got reddit. On the anniversary of her death, Laura’s friend Blaire (whose MacBook screen is where the entirety of the movie plays out) is pushing the boundaries of PG-13 acceptable content while flirting with her boyfriend Mitch. I shit you not, it’s a character named “Mitch” and she affectionately calls him “Mitchie”. A stream of vomit for each.

As the pair plan to break her factory seal in the afterglow of prom (girls get blue balls too), they’re interrupted by a Skype conference call from their friends. Amid their numbers is a mystery profile with a default avatar whose camera is the only one not broadcasting. Said creeper doesn’t respond to the young lads and lassies, and attempts to drop them from the chat prove useless. What’s presumably a hacker quickly proves to be something far more disturbing (it’s not one of their parents nor a middle-aged pervert offering to trade cans of Four Loko for jailbait booby shots) as, one by one, the phantasmal customer service rep from Satan’s IT department starts revealing dirty secrets from all involved…

What sounds like a very special episode of …whatever dramatic teen programming it is the youngs watch these days, turns fatal when it’s quickly made clear that anyone who tries to opt out of the enigmatic conversation starter’s games will be killed, on camera, for everyone else to see. We’re watching a literal “ghost in the machine” scenario! 

For a movie that should feature all the fun of looking over your friend’s shoulder while they talk to other people and surf the internets, it turned out to be a gimmick that I fell flat on my face for. Maybe it’s because I went into Unfriended with the bar set so low that it couldn’t possibly fail, but I was genuinely hooked into the proceedings! If that makes me a rube, so be it. If William Castle could make a career off of gimmick flicks, then kudos to those involved for doing something different. I can’t say I look forward to the sequel(s), because I don’t know if it’s the type of shtick that can be reproduced with the same effect, but every time a notification would sound on Blaire’s desktop, I was rapt to see what the next communication from the antagonist would be. I wanted to see what evil deeds these bastards had enacted and watch them fatally punished thusly! Maybe that makes me no better than the audience for those reality shit shows like the ”Real Housewives” idiocy, but I paid good money in the old days to see Christians fed to lions, so I’m not ashamed.

My bloodlust on this one may seem a bit more heightened than usual, but there’s a reason: I loathe bullies and harassers. It’s one of the worst aspects of modern technology that it’s become so easy to ruin another person’s day, their month, or even their year (I won’t be there for you) with words that cut someone’s sense of self deeper than anything Jason Vorhees has ever wielded. A member of my extended family hung herself when she was just 13 years old because of bullying, so believe me I say that I wish Unfriended were a reality.

I was bullied for much of my upbringing, but I was fortunate enough to be able to kick said bullies’ asses when needed. By the time high school came around, most people were too terrified of me pulling a Columbine because I was an outwardly bizarre individual, despite the only real threat I posed being verbal takedowns of the solitary dumbass who didn’t think I’d tear his jaw off and pistol whip his skull with it. But I was lucky. I had what I needed to defend myself. My cousin didn’t have that. It would be one of my fondest wishes to find the pieces of shit who pushed her over her edge and flay them alive.

… Well, that’s enough self-incrimination for tonight! Unfriended, whether you like it, hate it or just “meh” it, I recommend at least one viewing. It’s not something I’d probably feel so enthused about if I watched it more than once, but as far a single serving flicks go, It’s got my seal of approval.


Final Judgment:

Four Blue Screens of DEATH out-of-Five



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