28th Sep2018

‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ Blu-ray Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Chelsea Alden, Stephanie Nogueras, Alexa Mansour, Savira Windyani, Ashton Smiley, Douglas Tait, Connor Del Rio | Written and Directed by Stephen Susco

unfriended-2-blu

When a 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop, he and his friends are unwittingly thrust into the depths of the dark web. They soon discover someone has been watching their every move and will go to unimaginable lengths to protect the dark web. Unfolding in real-time, Unfriended: Dark Web is the sequel nobody wanted to the 2014 predecessor that nobody cared for, ultimately and inevitably creating a franchise that’s here to stay.

The 21stCentury evolution of horror is beginning to take form in the realm of the online, concerning social media and the implications it forms towards abusers and users. The topic and theme in question is rife with depth and subversion, utilised well in films such as Searching (2018). With online platforms being relatively new, yet now a dependent form of communication – and something of a natural aspect of modern culture too – history is rampant with misuses and the unknown surrounding the web itself, allowing stories based in this realm, such as Unfriended: Dark Web, the ability to offer up chilling ideals and consequence to users.

In terms of storytelling however, Unfriended: Dark Web gets about half the terror and horror right; with a second half ultimately more melodramatic fluff with an underwhelming narrative. Yet it is the structure that is undoubtedly the most inviting and engaging aspect of production. The aesthetic of the “camera POV” visuals works wonders within itself, eerie and claustrophobic it tightens its grip on the audience with wonderful effect. As does the performances from the cast. All put forward engaging moments to add emphasis on the tension and atmosphere. The performance in particular from Colin Woodell, who grasps the material with the most emphasis and emotion, invoking a sincere sense of chaos and fear contextually within the film.

However, an incredibly weak screenplay and unnatural dialogue don’t bode well for the film overall, in any natural coherent sense. It should be mentioned though that Unfriended: Dark Web incorporates a rather interesting and welcomed sub-plot about a hearing impaired character ,who is deaf yet plays a major role throughout the film,  not only in the character development but also in the structure of the film itself. An assuring positive that actors of any kind can be incorporated in any production nonetheless.

Unfortunately, within the last act of Unfriended: Dark Web, all the tension, terror and atmosphere suddenly drops to a lukewarm and poor finale that wants to provoke a far more outlandish and grandiose scale to the events the audience has bare witness to. Almost as if to signify that this is the bigger picture and to that, the question arises: “Why wasn’t that your film?” and undoubtedly time after time the same answer comes back with the issue of budget, but one shouldn’t promise a huge finale if one can’t fulfil that promise.

Unfriended: Dark Web is out on Blu-ray, in the US, now. Extras on the Blu-ray include  3 Killer Alternate Endings: Who Deserves To Live?, Matias, and Amaya. The film is released in the UK on DVD on December 3rd.

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