Thursday, January 7, 2016
Directed By: Leo Gabriadze
Written By: Nelson Greaves
Cinematography By: Adam Sidman
Editor: Parker Laramie & Andrew Wesman
Cast: Shelly Hennig, Heather Sossamon, Renee Olstead, Courtney Halverson, Moses Storm, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki, Matthew Bohrer
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review*
While video chatting one night, six high school friends receive a Skype message from a classmate who killed herself exactly one year ago. At first they think it's a prank, but when the girl starts revealing the friends' darkest secrets, they realize they are dealing with something out of this world, something that wants them dead.
The film was originally titled Offline, then it was CYBERNATURAL, then finally re-titled to "Unfriended".
The film is technically an independent film due to no studio being attached until 2014 when Universal had acquired distribution rights.
This seems like a longer short from the film V/H/S or at least inspired by that film.
Beginning Image of the film starts simple and small with what seems like the mundane everyday plainness of a Skype call.
Using the screen as more a canvas for their various computer screens and video certainly fits today's technology. Here I am glad it’s being incorporated creatively and effectively. One hopes in the future in all genres it can be used more interestingly. Then a by the numbers horror film that only seems to be using it to dress up a familiar story.
The filming also leaves plenty of chances for publicity and advertising, as well as various product placement that looks basic or a natural part of the characters day to day life usage.
The film takes place in real time which is another achievement as well as makes it more interesting to see how it was filmed.
The opening sequence was not originally meant to feature around just Laura Barns' suicide but rather various other fictional characters who had been driven to suicide. In the second theatrical trailer Blaire's desktop pulls up a video of a man on liveleak.com leaping from a foundry building to his death before a horrified crowd as well as a man swan diving from a Fresno bridge. The completed start sequence has only liveleak detailing Laura's final moments at their school's basketball courts before firing upon herself in front of a crowd of on looking, horrified teachers and classmates.
The film manages to be chilling, though more as the story goes along the more you learn. So you also feel like you are on an online gossip session. Drawing you in and making it seem so normal.
Seems to provide evidence to older audience members that young people video everything. The little dissertations add to the inner demons of the characters and the situations.
It's nice to see a film telling a story piece by piece using technology to be objective. Using something that most use or are at least interested in.
Plus keeping the audience at a distance, unlike In films where we usually see someone's P.O.V. This style keeps us in our toes and as a mystery.
Managed to scare and thrill with little violence. When we do see violence we more see glimpses and aftermath. Luckily we more see the aftermath or the indication of what is happening. Though the effects are impressive.
The cast were led to believe they were merely only the victims and Laura was the bully, it wasn't until after editing was the entire plot revealed to the cast.
Shot on a series of long takes, with the cast acting out the entire film. The final cut was one of the long takes.
In an earlier cut of the film, the characters' dialogue could be heard during scenes of text messaging between Blaire and Mitch. In the final version, all background dialogue is muffled during the texting.
It was Shelley Hennig’s idea to the producers to have them act out the entire film in one single take, after going through long takes lasting ten minutes.
Shot in one long take, in real time, with the characters on actual computers. Production lasted 16 days total, including six 12 hour days of principal photography, three days of pick ups and then a few more re-shoots and other stuff.
To keep the film suspenseful and believable, each take had script alterations on the fly and the cast were encouraged to improvise and react to the unexpected story changes
All filmed in one house with all the cast members in different rooms. (Except Ken)
Though in the beginning tempts literally, that seems to give the false promise we are used to with a more exploitive tone and then goes more towards more base elements. Until all the trouble starts.
This is a film That ends up being better than it should be. Where the way it is filmed is more interesting than the actual film. The film offers up no real surprises other then the. Way it handles itself better and more inventive then one would expect. Though when it feels like it hits it's strides. It does something to take it away. As towards the end we already know the truth
Though through secrets we find out their less the Saintly deeds or knowledge of sins. Which makes one wonder how accountable you are for protecting your friends given the level of sin and wrong doing on their part and are you judged more morally or by the laws of the land. Do the means fit the end. As some are just over the top gruesome
Stories like this confuse me at times to the role of religion in these films (or is it all null as no one professes a denomination or faith) As these ghosts are supposedly avenging themselves, but by killing, possessing. So is that seen as justified? If supposedly sent to heaven as death was forced was she granted heaven or are they strict and since still killed literally by your own hand. She goes to hell and in hell makes a deal for more souls that are dirty.'since she is stuck either way might as well enjoy it a bit . Goes after those she feels responsible for her current situation. Which seems a cinch as she like them is forcing them to actually kill themselves, guiding their hands involuntarily. She is causing them to commit suicide as revenge. So in the laws even though forced. It is by their own hands. Though it gets hazy as she really did do it by her own hand. Feeling right as there was no other way out. Where as she actually possessed so might not be in the laws.
So they might actually make it to heaven as they were wrong, but In life maybe their achievements helped deter their sins and the big one as part of a conspiracy not seen as too bad. As that result was her own choice. Except for Adam he is definitely going to hell. Either way.
According to Laura Barns' facebook profile her religious views are Catholic, in Catholicism suicide condemns one to one of the nine circles of hell, when Laura on her alternative Skype account billie227 reveals herself as the up-loader of the Val party photos Val proceeds to threaten to come and hurt her, Laura responding with You wouldn't like it here.
It's like an afterlife law and order episode. Can go either way like a STAR WARS prequel. Where we get into laws, bi-laws, faith and afterlife politics. I believe I just wrote a pitch for a mere physical sequel. Take it on case by case basis but in those films. Ghosts who seek vengeance are they in hell? Allowing this or did heaven feel they should get afterlife justice just don't kill them. As it is a sin (an easily overlooked one) though passable as those are lifelong rules. Now on the other side. Those are a different sector or set. Not tied to them.
Would have been affected if they mentioned how each different person helped control to video spread and disaster other then the posters and the commenters. Also all this evidence like drunken sex and photos. Did they take them or was she conjuring them up?
Though through her excuses and supposed self preservation and bad ideas truly did show main character though young and naive. Might have deserved part of what happens to her. Makes you think twice and like most good horror becomes a moral tale by the end.
Only wish the ending could have been more substantial as the truth comes out. My own personal idea of an ending, would be She has to live with herself and the knowledge of not only what she caused but everyone else knows and the more deaths she unleashed on her friends. This monster. Where she might have to kill herself or wants to but aren't extra points if somehow convinced of death of other friends, but that might be too far removed. Not to mention people want immediate results and that ending would take us out of the concept and perimeters of film and how it is being filmed.
By the end it does manage to tie in an anti-bullying message.
It is also nice to see a film where all the protagonists are guilty and selfish and in a sense deserve what is happening to them. According to their victim. Even if really just based in behavior ever since it that night where they are getting massacred.
Usually in films it was an accident, or something that went too far or somehow something minor that gained more and more baggage u till it has become a calamity. In this film thoroughly none expected the final result. They all contributed recklessly and cruelly. Not to a stranger but a friend for no reason other then what they felt was general teasing that destroyed someone.
As I am sure that as you read this you are thinking. Wow he needs more friends who he can discuss and test out his theories on certain films with