Death from the Skype

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated - James White

Re­lease Date: 1 May 15 | 83 min­utes Direc­tor: Le­van Gabri­adze Cast: Heather Sos­saman, Matthew Bohrer, Court­ney Halver­son, Moses Ja­cob Storm, Shel­ley Hen­nig, Will Peltz

The con­cept of mak­ing a film set en­tirely within chat win­dows on a com­puter screen is not com­pletely new: direc­tor Na­cho Vi­ga­londo used it last year for schlock thriller Open Win­dows. But Un­friended’s Le­van Gabri­adze takes things a step fur­ther in ex­ploit­ing the idea of so­cial me­dia and how The Kids To­day com­mu­ni­cate with his new hor­ror movie, a moral­ity tale for our time that is much more suc­cess­ful in am­bi­tion than it is in ex­e­cu­tion.

Spurring this story is the sui­cide of Laura Barns, a high school stu­dent who shot her­self af­ter some­one posted a video of her drunken an­tics and un­leashed a wave of on­line scorn. We’re in­tro­duced to a group of friends who knew her, and are all meet­ing via Skype to dis­cuss an up­com­ing event, flirt­ing, jok­ing or oth­er­wise goof­ing off as they do so. But soon they’re also dy­ing, as a ma­li­cious, mys­te­ri­ous en­tity that ap­pears to be Laura’s var­i­ous old ac­counts stalks them both vir­tu­ally and in real life.

The con­cept is ad­mirable and works to a cer­tain level, but the char­ac­ters prove al­most uni­formly un­like­able so there’s no real com­pul­sion to root for them to es­cape this ghostly techno- men­ace. And while us­ing the screen is ini­tially dif­fer­ent and en­ter­tain­ing, it soon be­comes flat and grat­ing, and the lack of real ac­tion means that you quickly tire of watch­ing jud­der­ing videos flicker. There are some scares here, but Un­friended ends up so an­noy­ing it’s easy to dis­con­nect. Un­friended was shot in very long takes – four times, the cast per­formed the en­tire film in one go.

Harry Styles still hadn’t fol­lowed her back.

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