Photographs by Anne Hall and William Walbourne of Syrenia Imagery
“Unfriended” puts cyber bullying in your nightmares
My article for “Unfriended” apparently never made it to print, so I’m sharing it a month late here. The film really needed the press exposure, so I’m hoping this still offers something for viewers.
Mixed feelings arise when that all mighty friend button gets un-clicked in this society run by mass media and Facebook dominating our content fixes. THE VERGE claims “Unfriended” accurately depicts our cyber existence, but I highly disagree. Sure it draws the attention to the reality of cyber stalking and dangers of not paying attention to your security settings and checking in to places for everyone on the world wide web to know where you’ve gone, where you’ve been and where you’re going. The reality that we’re monitored all the time and everything we do on the world wide web is tracked and recorded is not what this movie covers.
“Unfriended” uses the idea that a young girl who shot herself in the face after being cripplingly humiliated online has come back to get even on the one-year anniversary of her death. The story builds with mischievous friends breaking into their evening routine skypeing together and having a run in with an intruder who exists as a suspicious ‘nobody’ that just happens to know all of their embarrassing little secrets.
When the film was open for screening at WonderCon, Anaheim, April 4, the theater was filled. People were freaked out about the idea that a ghost was taking over their media outlets and keeping them from being able to free themselves from the situation, or else, death. Like a hacker dominating their domains; this ‘ghost’ calls them, instant messages them, controls their cries for help and brutally punishes their every attempt to find release.
The entire film: all i could think of was, “where the heck are these kids parents.” Every time a delete or cancel button was missing I just thought of how ridiculous it was. Then the story got more interesting when the characters started getting into the victim, Laura’s (played by Heather Sosssmann), back story. Now, that made you wonder if the culprit was even a ghost at all. Who would want revenge for Laura’s death? And who would work so hard to punish the so-called friends that drove her to her demise?
Now that’s a detail that makes it all worth while.
This horror/thriller was a low budget film that focused on the frontal view of the characters to provide the realistic image of being involved in their Skypeing. This bothered me, as this angle is primarily the only view the spectators get. I would have found the movie far more interesting if the creators had used the angles from inside the bedrooms; or even as the perspective of the killer sneaking up to them (more than one time in the entire film) to be far more scary and interesting. Because of that perspective, I truly lost my attention in the actual task of watching the film. Listening as a radio murder mystery would have probably been more exciting and interesting.
Yet, based on the storyline, quality of the acting and production work, I have to give the film a 4 out of 5 in terms of ratings. The only true blemish was the camera angles and creativity in that work. I’m much older than the generation that this film targets in regards to relate-ability. The lack of knowledge in security and identity protection is something I find no excuse for, yet that was the main selling point for the producers as they opened to talking about the film during the panel of “Insidious III” at WonderCon prior to the showing. Half the panel members immediately pulled out their phones to change their security settings after the concept was addressed. Constantly being exposed to the digital world apparently has caused users to loose concern for these little details of life. The film helps to readdress the possibilities in a whole new light.
To think of a ghost being able to control our digital worlds in order to break through the barriers to between this plane and another was a very unique concept. Finally, someone thought of something new. “Unfriended” was released worldwide Friday. Despite my feelings about the film, it’s definitely worth seeing. It’s different, addresses real issues despite its horror line…much like “Nightmare on Elm Street” was when it first released in 1984.
Happy movie going. Don’t forget to reset your security settings on your digital devices. Laura might come for you for not being so nice.