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‘Unfriended’ review

| Thursday, April 16, 2015

Unfriend_WEBEmily Danaher | The Observer

Trapped. Confined. Imminent demise. These four words sufficiently characterize the upcoming movie “Unfriended.” As the title conveys, the plot concentrates on social media in stereotypically cheesy fashion. Similar to all horror stories, the film follows a dramatic plot line stuffed with revenge, secrets and, of course, murder. Based entirely on social media, the story takes place within Blaire’s — one of the main females — computer screen. The audience, therefore, realistically experiences events exactly as Blaire would perceive them. That being said, the action pursues a clichéd, yet certainly suspenseful sequence of events, which revolves around Laura Barns’ — a recently deceased high school girl — revenge.

On the anniversary of her death, Laura avenges her suicide by haunting a group of teenagers through a variety of social networking sites. In the midst of an evening Skype chat, the friends notice something strange about their computer screens: they all bear an unusual, blank icon signifying “unknown party” within their group chat. For about 25 minutes, the group tries to rid their screens of the intruder, only to receive strange messages from a girl claiming to be the deceased Barns. All of a sudden, Laura posts humiliating pictures and degrading comments from one friend’s profile to the next, leading to distrust and eventual panic. Since each of these high school students has engaged in some aspect of Laura’s cyber-bullying and eventual death, their resistance to her awful vengeance only causes more and more agony. After refusing to let them hang up their phones or close their laptops, Laura, whom the audience never actually meets, tortures them mentally, emotionally and, of course, physically. Unable to escape the brutality, the gang also suffers through mind-games that trick them into spilling dark secrets. Similar to the trite horror film, the ending of “Unfriended” certainly does not bode well for the teenagers, since Laura attacks each and every one of them in different manners. Ladies and gents, if you’re in need of a happy ending, please save your money for something other than the world’s unhappiest genre.

Though its climax does not yield a pleasant result, the film intrigues by presenting integral problems to the modern day. Social media sites have grown exponentially through recent years. Though the mobility of modern technology provides great advantages for communication, its disposability comes at a price. Cyber-bullying, a recent and ever-present mode of picking on people, is quite prevalent within society. Typically occurring between adolescents, cyber-bullying carries serious, and possibly even lethal, ramifications for all involved. While the movie portrays the effects cyber-bullying to its utmost extremities, it certainly reflects the weight rumors and ugly posts/videos bear on a person. Each of the teenagers within the film carries responsibility for posting horrifying videos and comments of an intoxicated Laura — videos and comments that lead to her suicide. Interestingly enough, these pictures, videos and comments would bear absolutely no effect on Laura’s livelihood without the presence and apparent abuse of social media. That said, the clichéd horror film presents itself as quite satirical to the world of social media. This satire provides an empathetic, realistic perspective on Laura’s feelings and the friends’ remorse and pain, which makes “Unfriended” all the more suspenseful.

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