Unfriended: Dark Web touches on the horrors of social media (review)

unfriended dark web

I’m probably one of the very few people left who still enjoys found footage films. Over the past few years, the genre has sadly fallen to obscurity aside from some very small indie films that have been released with little to no media attention. Luckily, Blumhouse has not given up on the genre entirely and has decided to release a sequel to its 2014 film, Unfriended.

Now, the first film was a pleasant surprise since the premise was a little hokey, given that it revolved around a group of friends being haunted through their laptops. I still wound up liking the film and thought the concept of using webcams and desktop screens for the narrative was really unique, given that 90% of our current lives revolve around staring at a computer screen. Unfriended: Dark Web continues to use the same concept but shifts the main focus from supernatural to suspenseful horror.

The Deep Web or Dark Web is something that has become kind of a hot topic as of late thanks to the rise of bitcoin. Most know about the news of illegal drug trafficking and fake passport marketplaces, but when you dive really deep, you find that there are corners of the deep web that will make you regret being curious.

The film’s main character is Matias, who played by Colin Woodell. He works at an internet café and when he finds a laptop that has been left behind for a few weeks, he takes it upon himself to claim it and take it home. Once he opens the laptop, he opens himself and friends to the horrors of the deep sadistic corners of the Dark Web.

Matias and his relationship with his friends is an aspect I really enjoyed in the film. The first Unfriended movie mostly revolved around you wanting to see the characters get killed for what they did to their friend since it caused her to commit suicide. Unfriended: Dark Web does a great job of really fleshing out the main characters by making them genuine and relatable. Matias is a struggling programmer who is trying to create an app that will help him communicate better with his deaf girlfriend, Amaya. His friends Nari and Serena are a newly engaged couple dealing with the unfortunate circumstance of being rejected by Nari’s conservative family. These characters are way more sympathetic, and you’ll honestly feel sad once they get roped into the dark web.

Writer and director Stephen Susco did an excellent job of taking what started the franchise and expanding it in a whole new direction. The ghost through computer idea was a little too farfetched in the first film. But for this film, the combination of the visual style of Unfriended with the unknown horrors of the deep web just seem too real for comfort. By visually illustrating how these faceless villains are able to locate and track down the main characters, you’ll begin to wonder just how secure your computer really is. And you’ll wonder if you are posting too much of your own personal information on social media.

The only real gripe I had with the film was that there wasn’t as much gore as I thought there would be. Yes, I will be the first to admit to being a “sick bastard,” and I’ve enjoyed movies like Saw and Hostel. So the genre of torture porn isn’t exactly foreign to me. Given the subject of the film, I was expecting to see some very dark images. After all, it wouldn’t take you more than a few seconds to search Dark Web on Google and come up with stories about “Red Rooms” and Torture Live streams. Given this preconceived knowledge, I was a little let down with the lack of disturbing images. Even the first Unfriended was pretty grotesque with one friend putting their hand in a blender and another dying with a smoldering curling iron shoved down her throat. I know it’s a weird criticism, but it was something I was expecting and didn’t get out of this film.

In the end, it was still enjoyable and suspenseful, and it felt a little too real that it could easily make audiences uncomfortable. Personally, I hope they continue to follow the path that was set by Dark Web. So if you still have love for found footage films and are looking to seriously question computer’s security, check out Unfriended: Dark Web when it hits theaters July 20th.

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