Unfriended: 21st century horror

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Unfriended: 21st century horror

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

Unfriended introduces a new style of horror involving a more relatable scenario.

Jackie Angelo, Copy Editor

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Everyone has seen or at least heard of some sort of scary movie involving a group of unsuspecting, above-average looking teenagers who get themselves involved with a vengeful ghost, often leading to a series of unfortunate and — rather gruesome — deaths.

This plot has been executed a countless number of times before, as the once “hair-raising” tales of horror on the big screen have turned into simply another round of lukewarm terror and overused storylines. However, the new film Unfriended takes this basic plot and transforms it into a modern movie viewed entirely from a computer screen.

Unfriended hit theatres April 17 and earned $15 million in its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.com. Directed by Levan Gabriadze, it has redefined the possibilities of a new type of horror genre.  Since the film’s release, critics have been discussing that this movie was filmed from a laptop computer, amid broader themes about social media use.

The premise is simple: a bunch of high school students video chat one night before school and talk about simple things that really have no relevance to the plot, but rather is included as a way to characterize each individual.

However, as time progresses, they begin to receive weird messages from their old school acquaintance, Laura Barnes, who committed suicide exactly one year prior after having an embarrassing video of her posted on YouTube. At first they are not convinced it is actually the ghost of Sarah Barnes taking over their computers, until Sarah begins to hold their secrets against them, and forces them to expose these secrets, or else they would face a rather grisly end.

Unfriended cleverly utilized what our everyday world has become and transformed it into a creative movie. By creating a movie seen from the view of a 17-year-old girl on her laptop, we see a new genre of movies come into play, incorporating the artistic basis of film and screenwriting and synthesizing it with modern technological advancements that have skyrocketed in the past five years.

Of course, the main reason for the popularity of this movie is because it was a new style of horror, which was tastefully done to say the least. It truly felt like watching a video conversation between a group of teenagers, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.

However, the downside of the movie being so real is the characters themselves, as they each portray a different version of your stereotypical teenager. There was the jealous boyfriend, the “innocent” girl, the obnoxious best friend, the mean-humored boy, the snobby rich girl, and the violent and aggressive character who isn’t afraid to start a full out screaming match.

Pile all these characters together, and you can predict there will be shouts and cursing, as well as innuendo that the writers intentionally made immature to help portray these people as 17-year-old high schoolers, not 20-year-old professional actors.

It often seems uncertain if you want to be rooting for any of these characters to make it through the ghost’s wicked games, since every time people such as Adam, played by Will Peltz, spoke, your head would begin to ache by the constant whining and screaming.

The characters also lacked a sense of moral integrity. At first, one may truly feel bad for these kids, who had gone online to simply talk to their friends about school gossip and laugh. However, as the movie goes on and secrets become unraveled, it becomes apparent that although still crazy and demonic, the ghost of Laura Barnes may have a point to her doings. Eventually, she begins to force them to reveal their darkest secrets, which in turn, make the audience begin to hate the group of kids even more.

One thing that I really took away from this movie wasn’t necessarily the writing, or even the overall creativity of the movie through a computer screen. What really hit home was the message of cyber bullying. Yes, it is evident that Unfriended is a fictitious story, but kids committing suicide because of cyber bullying is quite the opposite.

The director did a great job showing how much cyber bullying can leave lasting impacts on people’s lives, using the fictitious character of Laura Barnes to show how bullying can leave an everlasting mark on everyone involved.

Unfriended has become a first of its kind, sparking major news all over the globe for creating the next era of scary movies. Undoubtedly, many Hollywood producers will follow suit in reimagining the horror genre. Much like Paranormal Activity, filmed entirely from the protagonists’ point of view, the “computer viewed” horror movies will surely lead many others to do the same.

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