A secret follow-up to one of Blumhouse's most profitable horror movies has been unveiled at SXSW, as Unfriended: Dark Web was officially screened to an audience at the Austin film festival. The film was previously listed as Untitled Blumhouse-Bazelevs Film before it was shown, and it was only after producer Jason Blum presented the movie that the full title was revealed. It marks the end of months of speculation about the production, and gives Blumhouse another possible genre hit for 2018.
Unfriended was originally released in 2015, and went on to garner a worldwide gross of over $64m from a tiny budget of just $1m. Basically a twist on found-footage horror films like The Blair Witch Project, the whole film took place from the perspective of a laptop screen. As windows were opened and group-chats occurred, it showed a group of friends being methodically hunted by an apparently supernatural presence. Whilst it received some mixed reviews, the profit and popularity of the film ensured early talk of a sequel. Nothing was officially announced by Blumhouse, but during October of last year rumors circulated that Unfriended 2 had been completed in secret and had already been shown in test-screenings as Unfriended: Game Night. Along with those reports, when film fans spotted the untitled Blumhouse film listed at SXSW many deduced that it might be the aforementioned movie.
As reported by Deadline, those suspicions were correct as Blum presented the fully completed film to an audience on March 9 at the Alamo Ritz theater. The plot is summarised as below;
“A 20-something finds a cache of hidden files on his new laptop and is thrust into the deep waters of the dark web. From the makers of Unfriended, this thriller unravels in real-time, entirely on a computer screen. A warning for the digital age.”
Unfriended: Dark Web is the directorial debut of Stephen Susco, who wrote the 2004 U.S. version of The Grudge and its sequel. The cast includes Colin Woodell (Unsane) as the lead protagonist, along with Betty Gabriel (Get Out) and Stephanie Nogueras (The Magicians). It's reportedly not a direct sequel to the previous film despite the title, and it very much moves away the previous supernatural themes, being described as a more straightforward horror-thriller. It does however keep the laptop POV motif and is said to provide plenty of scares along the way.
It's unlikely that Blum would have screened the film at SXSW without full confidence in the property, and early feedback does seem to be positive. It's a big year for Blumhouse itself, with several eagerly awaited films already locked in for release during 2018; including Halloween, The First Purge, and Truth or Dare. Unfriended: Dark Web has not yet been given a theatrical release date, but it's expected to hit theaters later this year and could provide yet another profitable horror outing for the prolific studio.