‘It […] doesn’t believe its audience is extremely intelligent’
Unfriended: Dark Web, 2018
Directed by: Stephen Susco
Starring: Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, Stephanie Nogueras, Savira Windyani
A film sequel in name and stylistic choice alone, Unfriended: Dark Web once again introduces us to a group of teenagers choosing to communicate through Skype but instead of being targeted by the spirits of recently deceased girls it’s a group of sadistic people who interact in the dark web and want their laptop back, a laptop which or protagonist, Matias (Colin Woodell), took from a lost-and-found section at work. The laptop, though, is filled with video clips of young girls being murdered in horrendous ways and the laptop is inundated with strange messages from people. Once again, though, the group are picked off one-by-one, as the case was with the first film, although the introduction of real-life villains, rather than the spirits used in Unfriended, make this film marginally scarier.
A month back I hadn’t seen a single film in this style, but after watching Unfriended prior to this and upcoming release, Searching, I have now seen three, and I’m still not convinced by this style of storytelling despite the fact I do believe it’s visually impressive, for the most part. It does, however, feature some of the same problems as the first (although it has improved them somewhat) in that there is a lot of dead air space. It also doesn’t believe its audience is extremely intelligent as the mouse moves to almost every important piece of information we need. If there’s a message posted or a notification appearing then the computer’s mouse seems to follow along word-by-word as if to direct our attention there as we need that particular information to piece everything together. It also suffers from a lack of interesting characters: we have a tech-savvy guy, a newly-engaged lesbian couple (who are probably the best characters but that doesn’t say too much), a conspiracy theorist with a sizeable YouTube following, a deaf girl who spends most of the movie just arguing with Matias because he can’t sign very well and a girl who is clearly interested in DJ’ing as she is surrounded by musical equipment. They’re all just so bland and with a protagonist who’s revealed to be a thief (and someone who strangely creates a complex system to sign to his girlfriend but refuses to go to a sign-language class) it just takes you away from the characters.
I did much prefer the inclusion of real-life villains who only operate through the dark web rather than the spirit from the first film, as it made the villains scarier because of their numbers, their power and their brutality. They’re able to manipulate computers, like the spirit from the first, and the videos that are found of their previous victims are horrendous in the way it needed to be. For someone like me the dark part of the web is a complete mystery (as is event he deep web, which I’ve only just found out are different), and this film did a decent job of telling how dangerous a place it can be, and how dangerous some of the people who browse there can be (even if one moment of dialogue explaining the dark web did seem as if it was an advert for all the crime that can be found there).
As with the first film, the acting is hard to judge because they spend most of the time on Skype and shouting at the screen in trying to tell Matias what to do. I did find Unfriended: Dark Web a better film than its predecessor, but it still isn’t a strong showing where you do have to suspend your disbeliefs somewhat.
Personal: * * Acting: * * Writing: * * Presentation: * * *