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Chris Kavan's Movie Reviews (3227)

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Unfriended 
The Perils of Cyberbullying
2.5/4 stars

The real horror of Unfriended (or, as I like to call it, the film formally known as Cybernatural) is not so much in the various deaths suffered by the generic white teenagers in the film, but rather the reasoning behind these deaths. The rise of social media has given us instant access to funny cat videos, surprising YouTube stars and instant communication but has also given rise to less savory elements like sexting and, of course, cyber-bullying.

Unfriended opens on the suicide of a teen, Laura Barnes, one driven to take her life after an embarrassing video surfaces and many of her "friends" encourage her to commit suicide (which she does). By all accounts she wasn't the most well-liked of people at her school (based on anecdotes picked up in the film) but neither was she deserving of her fate. That being said, the six friends who show up to Skype and text message on the anniversary of her death don't expect her to reach out and touch someone - like a real ghost in the machine, she does show up, and shows no mercy.

Each of these friends has a secret to hide - hidden from one another, and some of these secrets wound deeply. The film would have you believe the various deaths are what drives this horror, but I would say the film is more of a lesson in how nothing online is really ever hidden or secret - so remember that the next time you take a revealing selfie or decide to record something embarrassing. A vengeful spirit isn't likely to come after you, but the past can certainly haunt you.

The film should play better to the younger generation (whether they take the message to heart is another matter). I didn't know if a film shot entirely using social media and Skype could ever work and though the deaths are a bit of a letdown and the characters pretty generic and forgettable, I still have to give props for portraying cyberbullying in a more intriguing light rather than a straight-up drama.


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