Mad and de­mented, but so­cial

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM REVIEWS - Don­ald Clarke

This imag­i­na­tive and un­set­tling dis­sec­tion of on­line dis­con­tents is a mi­nor hor­ror clas­sic, writes

UN­FRIENDED Di­rected by Le­van Gabri­adze. Star­ring Shel­ley Hen­nig, Moses Ja­cob Storm, Re­nee Ol­stead, Will Peltz, Ja­cob Wysocki, Court­ney Halver­son, Heather Sos­saman. 16 cert, gen re­lease, 82 min Here is a high con­cept that is worth do­ing once and well. This hugely imag­i­na­tive, gen­uinely un­set­tling dis­sec­tion of cur­rent on­line dis­con­tents takes place en­tirely on the screen of one teenager’s lap­top: her mes­sag­ing pro­gramme, Instagram, Face­book, email and browser.

You could view it as a rare imag­i­na­tive vari­a­tion on the found-footage genre. It is also, de­spite in­ner split-screens and jump-cuts, tech­ni­cally a “sin­gle-shot” movie in the vein of Rope or Rus­sian Ark. Most un­usu­ally of all, this moral hor­ror is surely the first film ever that will play best on a lap­top. This is no rea­son not to see Un­friended in the cinema.

The story be­gins in du­bi­ous ter­ri­tory by show­ing us footage of a sui­cide that re­sulted from the spread of an em­bar­rass­ing video shot at a boozy party. Six teenagers come to­gether on Skype to pon­der this while at­ten­tion me­an­ders among other com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­grammes on their desk­tops.

But who is this anony­mous user who keeps intruding on their con­ver­sa­tion? Is it the dead girl seek­ing re­venge from be­yond the grave? Is it merely a spoofer play­ing a cruel prank? Be­fore too long, the kids are be­ing knocked off in a con­tem-

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