Unfriended: Dark Web REVIEW (with spoilers tagged)
I have always been a big supporter of Unfriended. From the first time I saw it, I felt something special about it. It may not be the first film to shoot that way, with everything being from a laptop POV, but it may be one of the best. It was fun, it was gory (that blender scene!!!!) and the story was pretty interesting. Of course, like any horror film, it had its’ flaws and plot holes. But it was mostly just a really fun ride.
I sat back and watched as horror fans tore Unfriended apart, and then two years later turn around and talk about how great it is. Ya’ll are so picky!! But I knew after my first watch of Unfriended that it would be one I watch a lot and care a lot about.
Unfriended, originally premiered in 2014 and was produced by Blumhouse. It was written by Nelson Greaves and directed by Levan Gabriadze.
On July 20th, Unfriended: Dark Web was released and this weekend I got to go see it. This time around the film was written and directed by Stephen Susco but still produced by Blumhouse. The only connection between the two flicks is the way the movie’s shot. It’s a POV of our lead character’s laptop.
Story time! Matias (Colin Woodell) has found a new laptop, and by found, I mean stole out of the lost and found. He’s working on a new app called Papaya which works with people who are deaf. His girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogqueras) is deaf and the two of them struggle to communicate. They’re having relationship problems because honestly Matias seems like kind of a dick. Amaya asked him to go to sign language classes and he went to one and then bailed, finding it too hard. He figured he’d just put all his effort into creating this app instead. BUT….this app only really helps Amaya understand what Matias is trying to say, it doesn’t help Matias understand her back.
It’s game night, and Matias signs on along with his friends Damon (Andrew Leeds), AJ (Connor Del Rio), DJ Lexx (Savira Windyani), Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and Nari (Betty Gabriel). It’s a nice mix of friends, all with distinctive personalities and some great humorous moments.
Unfortunately for Matias, the laptop he stole belongs to someone named Nora C. IV and very quickly he realizes he’s gotten involved in something way over his head. When he checks the hard drive he finds tones of videos of women being tortured and when he opens up a mysterious chat room, there’s someone asking for more videos and offering a lot of money to do so.
ENTERING VAGUE SPOILER TERRITORY
Dark Web is very different entity than its’ original. This time the things happening are very real and very scary. There’s not ghosts haunting these folks, it’s the dark net. What is so frightening about Dark Web is how completely realistic it seems. We’ve all heard rumors of people on the Dark Net paying ridiculous sums of money to watch people get killed and this story is no different. Charon is tasked with kidnapping girls and torturing them and filming it. He sells the videos to requests on the Dark Net.
Some of the videos are absolutely terrifying – one of the most visceral ones is when you see a barrel and a small hole in the top, when the camera zooms in you realize there’s a woman trapped in there.
I like the sort of cat and mouse chase of it all where Matias is trying to save his girlfriend as his friends die one by one. And I think it was totally scary when the various Charon’s were proving how easy it was to track these friends just using photos/videos they’ve posted.
There’s a truly heartbreaking scene where Serena has to choose between the love of her life, Nari, and her dying mother in the hospital. The dark net folks hack into the hospital and turn off her mother’s life support. It was wonderfully acted and I was screaming at Serena to choose.
Matias as a lead I think was questionable to me, I didn’t warm to him and I wasn’t rooting for him. I suppose that’s sort of the point of the story though – you never know what you’re really putting on the internet or allowing into your home with technology.
END VAGUE SPOILERS
I’m not sure which I preferred over Unfriended or Dark Web, but I kind of like that they’re both really great. I think they scare in different ways. Dark Web felt like a warning to us that rely so heavily on the internet and our phones and computers. It is a stark and terrifying reminder that you are not completely safe as long as you have your phone on you and keep posting on social media. You can be tracked, your phone can be hacked, your laptop camera can be turned on without you knowing. Ugh. It’s just terrifying.
While there were no jump scares, Dark Web cleverly creates a build up of dread and anxiety.
I highly recommend it to fans of Unfriended and to folks looking for a slow build with a sense of dread.