[Movie Review] Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)


Plot Summary: A teen comes into possession of a new laptop and soon discovers that the previous owner is not only watching him but will also do anything to get it back.

Director: Stephen Susco

Writer: Stephen Susco

Runtime: 1h 28 min

Main Cast:

  • Rebecca Rittenhouse as Serena
  • Betty Gabriel as Nari
  • Chelsea Alden as Kelly
  • Colin Woodell as Matias

Review by: Chris F

A sequel to 2014 film Unfriended, Dark Web returns to the new arena of smart tech filmed horror. Being someone interested in this new form of filmmaking I thought the original film was a unique yet flawed modern horror tale. Though some of the supernatural elements of the original threw me off, using a laptop and webcam as the main cameras led to some very interesting forms of storytelling.

The sequel follows Maitas and his friends after the former ‘finds’ a new laptop, once it’s revealed who the previous owner of the laptop is, the friends much navigate the horrific situations they are caught in once the owner demands his laptop back. Turning the dumb teen genre of horror on its head, can Unfriended: Dark Web be as unique and interesting as the first? Kind of?

What I Liked:

As stated above, I’m a big fan of this film’s presentation. Much like the first the entire film is told as if the audience is viewing a laptop screen, this allows for some really creative ways to tell a story.

From the opening scene of the main character attempting to log into the laptop, to the clever reveal at the end, the format of this film is its strongest point. What could easily be a cheap gimmick, allows the filmmakers to do some really clever reveals and show off exposition in ways that feel real and natural. Seeing a mouse hover around an option while the character thinks about the next move, seeing the webcam screen of someone reacting to something horrible. All clever and well done considering how easy it is to overuse.

What I Liked (continued):

The actors play well with the format as well, though very limited in terms of their physical movements, the main group of friends all play their roles well enough. All of the classic teen tropes are here, though tweaked in unique, modern ways. Do we have the nerd/conspiracy theorist, nerd/smart tech guy, interracial lesbian lovers, and girl that is a DJ? Yea not all the characters are as fleshed out as others, but all are serviceable and even good once things get really crazy.

Colin Woodell, who plays Matias, is given the most to do and work with. Being the lead much of the emotional weight falls on him and his decisions. He carries the role well enough, with moments of panic and dread being believable. Props to the director for getting so much from an actor in a very small screen space.

The villain in this movie is pretty damn scary once things begin to pick up. As the movie goes, the threat shows its hand and influence more and more and leads to one very creative kill and other terrifying displays of power and influence. Though much of the villain’s movements are obscured by a cheesy, fake looking digital distortion effect, he still poses and represents a very large threat for the team.

With one of the better horror endings I’ve seen, a lot of the really scary moments come from how real some of it seems to be. This is also a great “talk to the screen” film. You know what I mean, one of those horror films where its an audience experience. The crowd I was with laughed, groaned, and shouted all at the best moments which made the film that much more enjoyable.

What I Didn’t Like:

Even though I’m well familiar with horror tropes and teen movies, I couldn’t get over how many stupid things these characters did, especially the main lead, Maitias. Some of the moves he made when things got really bad, just did not make any logical sense at all. He seemed to move only to push the plot forward. Its odd considering how well done much of it is, to see just boneheaded decisions made before or right after something smart. Again, I completely understand this is expected for the genre, but it just took me out of the film and killed much of the tension in those scenes.

For a horror film it also really wasn’t that scary. It’s more haunted house fun, rather than being actually frightening. Though the villains and how they move have real-life implications, many of the deaths felt too movie like outside of ONE AMAZING KILL using a characters youtube page against him, best part of the movie in my opinion, I felt no terror at any of the proceedings and felt no connection to any of the main cast.

Unfortunate too, when the stakes get really high, I was laughing rather than feeling suspense or dread. Another complaint and this is weird I know, the kills were lackluster. I keep mentioning one clever kill, but everything else was standard sub-par killings. Rooftop fall, train, bus hit, nothing to make me wince or jump. I kind look for that in this type of film and the first one had that in high degree, which makes it disappointing here.

Post originally on — The Grand Shuckett