By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films…I think I like “Unfriended” a lot more than I should.

When it comes to the mock-computer-screen settings in thrillers, I think “Searching” is the superior movie–hell, that movie’s in its own separate league. But I have a real soft spot for “Unfriended” just for being what it is: a teenage slasher film with more to say about itself than most others…and told in real-time on a girl’s laptop screen.

A group of teens are Skyping one night on the anniversary of their classmate’s suicide after she faced constant cyberbullying due to an embarrassing viral video of her. Now it seems her ghost is haunting them and causing them to confess their part in both the bullying and her suicide… It’s an inventive concept done in an effective minimalistic way, and it’s entertaining and saying something at the same time. But it fascinates me how various the opinions of critics/audiences are when it comes to this movie. There are those who love it, like it, dislike it, and REALLY freaking hate it. I don’t recall another horror film getting this kind of mixed reception.

All of the characters on display here are horrid. They’re your average, basic, everyday teens whose sins are revealed as the movie progresses. Much of their wrongdoings have to do with anonymous cyberbullying, which is still a huge problem today. They pay severely for not admitting to what they did, and the message that I get from the movie is that there are consequences to this sort of thing. It’s the “boy who cried wolf”/”truth shall set you free” type of story that’s done in a way that might speak to teenage viewers.

Is the film great? No. Does the scene in which Blaire desperately tries ChatRoulette to seek help make sense? No. Does the ending work? Well…yes and no.

SPOILER ALERT!!! I have to talk about the ending and why it doesn’t work as well as it could have.

The twist at the end is that Blaire, the last one standing after her friends are killed, was the one who filmed the video that went viral and led to the non-stop cyberbullying that led to Laura’s suicide. That truth becomes revealed on Facebook for all her Friends to see, and she starts receiving harsh comments from people who see her as a monster. It’d be very effective if it ended there, with the idea that Blaire has to live with what she’s done (and she’s had many opportunities to prevent this by coming clean)…BUT NO! We instead are treated to a cheap-ass jump-scare in which she’s presumably killed by ghost-Laura who lunges at the camera before the film cuts to black as we hear a loud shriek…There went the message, out the window just like that, for the sake of a cheap jump-scare that Blumhouse Productions just couldn’t resist!


So yeah, I like “Unfriended.” Very much, actually. I still like “Searching” more, but there’s just something that’s fun and satirical and edgy and even insightful about “Unfriended” that makes me brush off the complaints from online critics such as Phelous and YourMovieSucks and Brad Jones (among others) as mere nitpicks.