I would’ve thought that, if there was a movie that didn’t need any sequel, that would be Unfriended (2014). Don’t get me wrong, I believe that flick to be pretty solid and effective, interestingly presented despite some obvious shortcomings.
Unfriended: Dark Web thankfully proved me wrong, both going in a different direction in comparison to the first movie (to which, in fact, is more of a companion piece instead of an actual sequel) and being a rather competent, inspired and decent horror flick.
Very much like in the first Unfriended, over the course of Unfriended: Dark Web (not to be confused with the embarrassing horror anthology Dark Web), we follow a bunch of friends (I think they’re in their 20s) who start playing games with each other while on Skype. One of them, Mathias (Colin Woodell) has taken a powerful and advanced laptop he found in an internet café, because it allows him to craft an APP to communicate through sign language with his girlfriend. However, he finds out that the laptop belongs to a person who’s into highly illegal activities in the dark net… and things spiral down fast, as Mathias involves himself and his friends into a virtual word of sick activities and deadly deals.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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First of all, Unfriended: Dark Web doesn’t rely on the supernatural element: this is more of a somber thriller about a fascinating yet dangerous part of the internet. In comparison to the first movie, where everything could be justified by saying that there was a ghost, here the filmmakers put great effort into making the story believable. Did they pull it off? Sure this flick has a very, very farfetched premise and I don’t know how many people in real life would be as naïve as the characters in the film. Nonetheless, the accuracy the story is presented with makes it easy to buy: the way social media, and mostly interaction on social media, work is very well represented in Unfriended: Dark Web. In my opinion, even though the novelty of the first film has disappeared, this way of displaying the movie works better in this sequel.
Also, Mathias is very well played and the interaction between him and his deaf girlfriend seems legit: the idea of an APP that helps him figure out sign language for the love of his life might be a bit corny, but it also helps building him as a compelling character. In general, all the protagonists of this movie are very likeable: they might not be fleshed out or always well portrayed by the actors, but they definitely make you care for them.
Another aspect I want to praise is the lack of jump-scares. Since the movie is, supposedly, shot through a laptop camera, here jump-scares would be even less warranted and more obnoxious than they usually are, thus the filmmakers kept only a couple of them (which are, indeed, unbearable and take you out of the experience) and got rid of the others.
Overall, Unfriended: Dark Web is very immersive and intense: a rated-R horror flick that, unlike many others, doesn’t rely on violence or blood – not too much, at least – to be effective.
One last praise for Unfriended: Dark Web must be the recognition that this flick makes great use of product placement. Unlike most movies that use product placement as nothing more than an obnoxious way to sell stuff, resulting in nothing more than a feature-length commercial, this horror movie utilises it as a way to make the story and its presentation much more relatable.
Other than the few, mostly tiny, issues I pinpointed throughout this review, I think this film has another somewhat nitpicky flaw and two big problems. I’m sure it won’t bother most of you, but the editing isn’t always well-crafted: for example, you see a guy on Skype in a certain position, then the ‘camera’ switches focus for a split second, then it comes back to the first guy and he’s in a totally different position… unless the guy is actually The Flash from DC, it’s impossible that he moved so quickly.
In terms of actual problems this film has, the first one revolves around the story itself: if you think about it (and about the consequences to certain things that happened) for longer than two minutes, you’ll most likely be filled with doubts and taunting questions. It means the movie assumes its audience to be not very demanding and a bit unsophisticated. Yet, the characters reactions (Mathias’ aside) look mostly unrealistic and toned down: again, I don’t blame the actors, but I think the director didn’t spend enough time working with them on these aspects, whcih would’ve improved the realism and impact of the story.
In conclusion, I expected this flick to be quite boring, uninspired and badly executed, and I was proven wrong. I’d go as far as to say that I personally enjoyed it more than the original, with the absence of the supernatural being a very welcomed trait of Unfriended: Dark Web. I wouldn’t say it’s a good movie per se, but I can’t deny it’s a good enough addition to the internet-related sub-genre of horror.
Unfriended: Dark Web 7/10