What would I Know What You Did Last Summer look like if it was released in 2015? Upcoming horror movie Unfriended (formerly known as Cybernatural) attempts to answer that question by taking the idea of a vengeful dead person and throwing a whole mess of social media into the mix, as six teenage friends embark on a Skype conference call… of death.
Borrowing from the tragically frequent stories of teenagers committing suicide due to cyber bullying, Unfriended takes place one year after Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) is recorded fatally shooting herself after having a drunken video of her anonymously uploaded for the internet to laugh at. Laura’s former schoolmates are casually chatting on Skype when a mysterious seventh caller shows up and begins tormenting them.
Unfriended comes from the Paranormal Activity school of found-footage horror movies that can be made very cheaply but turn out big profits at the box office. Paranormal Activity 4 in particular had extended scenes of the main character awkwardly carrying her MacBook around the haunted house so as not to interrupt a video chat.
It’s just as well that Unfriended received a handful of positive reviews when it debuted (under its original, cheesier, title) at Fantasia International Film Festival last year, because this trailer really does not sell it well at all. The only thing that marks it apart from being another generic teen horror movie with a bunch of shrieking, unlikeable characters getting killed off one by one is the social media element – and even that seems a little gimmicky.
The “set” of the movie is the desktop of high schooler Blaire (played by Teen Wolf‘s Shelley Hennig) as she navigates her way through the Skype call (as well as various social media sites), and the cast also includes Jacob Wysocki (Terri), Will Peltz (Men, Women and Children) and Renee Olstead (The Secret Life of the American Teenager).
Unfriended was written by Nelson Greaves and directed by Levan Gabriadze, both of whom are newcomers. Despite a slightly dodgy premise and a pretty bad trailer, it might be worth listening to the reviews that insist it’s better than expected and giving Unfriended a chance – if not in theaters then at least upon its home video/VOD release.
Unfriended is in theaters on April 17th, 2015.