For Good Reason - Unfriended: Dark Web
All things considered, horror movies actually have a pretty easy job. Loud noises make people jump, silly characters make people laugh and thin storylines make people feel like they aren't just watching snuff. So when a horror movie still fails even when graded on this generous curve, everyone involved deserves to be roasted. This is one of the stupider movies I've seen in any medium and the fact that it was not direct-to-video only serves to deepen the insult. The plot makes no sense, the scares are underwhelming and nothing about any of the characters is remotely memorable.
Matias (played by Colin Woodell) is a 20-something who is in a romantic relationship with a deaf woman. Their relationship is plagued by her frustration with his inability to do sign language and thus their inability to communicate via webcam. Matias builds a software program to help them communicate, but she remains angry that he does not take the initiative to attend lessons.
Matias and his group of five largely forgettable friends have a weekly game night and the movie joins them as they are forced to host that game night online. While they are playing Cards Against Humanity, things get strange, as Matias learns more and more about the laptop he found. When the owner of the laptop wants it back, things get dark as forces from the dark web begin to target the group.
Everything about that setup is as stupid as it sounds. The plot makes multiple sharp turns that defy logic. It also never really feels like there are any stakes to the action, as the omnipotent villains pick off these hapless idiots who never really stand a chance. The formula makes the film feel bloated and repetitious even at its otherwise tight 90 minute run-time.
Even lamer than any of that is the fact that the movie pulls punches in ways that don't make sense. For an Rated R movie with humble box office hopes, they inexplicably stay away from anything that could be construed as a disturbing visual. They allude to some of the horrific content that can be found on the dark web, but they never really reveal any of it. Instead, this like something that would be aired on MTV--not the product of the most prolific horror studio around. Everyone gets a misfire every now and then and this should count as two for Blumhouse.
It is a sequel, so it can be forgiven for its general setup feeling stale. But what it cannot be forgiven for is feeling stale at every level. At one point, the software program DaisyDisk is highlighted as the solution to a problem. Right there next to the software's logo is "Best of 2015," which perfectly describes so much of the feel of this movie. Much like its title, the once buzzy "unfriended," the technology it means to feel bleeding edge is actually old hat. And even when the technology doesn't feel old, these moronic characters still aren't using it in interesting ways. Running to Google Translate only to discover a French Facebook message says exactly the same thing three previous English messages said? What are we doing here?
I can usually find something to commend in just about any effort, but there really is nothing here. Even at the emotional peaks, when characters (SPOILER ALERT) die, there is no reason to care. We know so little about them and their history as a unit that it is hard to feel particularly invested in these people. If you love yourself, do yourself a favor and see anything else--even if that means an hour and a half of staring at your own computer screen. Even if you yourself wind up being hunted down by maniacal forces from the dark web, you will have a much more interesting time.
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