Casabloga: Unfriended

If you’d have told me a week ago that I’d be writing this post, I’d have called you crazy. Heck, if you’d told me yesterday. When I first heard of Unfriended, I assumed it was just a gimmick. There’s no way a movie that’s just a Skype call could possibly be good. The fact that there’s already a sequel just proves it.

But one of my bestfriends saw Unfriended: Dark Web today and posted on Facebook, “I am legit walking out of the theater shaking. “These Unfriended movies are dementedly genius!” (that was his post copied and pasted). I was confused, so I commented saying that I’ve never seen the first one. He and another friend commented that I should. We usually agree when it comes to movies, so I rented it on YouTube and watched it tonight.

FB Post

So, as you can see, in less than half an hour I went from thinking it was just a gimmick to actually liking it. Almost immediately, I realised it was something unique.

It uses real sites and programs, such as Facebook, Spotify, and Skype. This was a surprise to me, because usually in movies they use fake ones. Using real things adds to be authenticity and believability of the film.

The entire film is from the screen of the main character, Blaire. It opens with her looking up information on her friend, Laura Barns, who committed suicide a year previously. After a minute her boyfriend calls and the story begins. It’s essentially all in one shot, because it never cuts away from the screen, and instead has Blair switching tabs on the left (she’s using a Mac).

But as boring as this probably sounds, this is actually used to great effect to tell the story. You can see by the way the cursor moves how Blair is reacting to situations. Something will pop up and the cursor will pause, then slowly go over to click it.

I think one of the best uses of this is one scene when the characters in the Skype call criticize Laura, the girl who committed suicide, and Blair is using iMessage with her boyfriend in another tab, telling him they didn’t know Laura like she did, that she had a hard life. When her boyfriend asked what she meant, she types, “When she and I were young”, deletes it, types, “When she was”, deletes it, types “Her uncle”, deletes it, then finally types, “Just family stuff” and sent it. So much is implied by her deleted messages but isn’t explained. We don’t need it explained, and a lesser film would have gone down that road and handled it poorly.

The acting was surprisingly realistic. The group of friends got into a few fights, and there were real tears shed. Then when they were laughing and joking around, it felt like they were actual friends in a Skype call. I believed that we were watching a real group of friends interacting. Even when they were fighting, if something happened between one of them they suddenly stopped fighting and showed genuine concern.

I was legitimately freaked out several times watching this movie. It’s very rare for a modern horror film to scare me, and I think the last one to do so was It Follows.

Pretty much my only real complaint with the film is the very last second. Literally the very last second. they go the jump scare route. But unlike Paranormal Activity’s jump scare ending, it actually makes sense. I just generally don’t like jump scares. But as I said, that’s my only complaint, and it doesn’t ruin the rest of the film. It’s not like it turns out they were actually on an alien spaceship the whole time or something.

I’m now excited about seeing Dark Web. According to my friend, and most of the reviews I’ve seen before writing this one, it’s better than the first. I seriously hope so, because this one was amazing!


Casabloga: The Blair Witch Project

When you hear that a new found footage movie is being released, you automatically roll your eyes, because you already know that it’s going to be fake. With each one, they try harder and harder to make them as realistic as possible, while at the same time trying to make them as exciting as possible. But the problem is that in real life, no one holds a camera long enough during events like that. At least not enough to form a coherent story.

But there was a time when this was an entirely new concept. I’m speaking, of course, about The Blair Witch Project. While the film itself may not be all that exciting (it’s literally just three people lost in the woods for days and fighting with each other), what really makes this movie great, at least to me, is everything surrounding it. Love the film or hate it, you can’t deny it had the perfect marketing. It was sold as factual, and they went all the way with it. The actors weren’t to appear in anything else for at least a year, not even talk shows. They even made a documentary about the Blair Witch, just to make it seem more real.

I was one of those who fell for it. Up until I read a Cracked article years ago about how the film was made, I actually thought it was real. I’m sure if I’d have taken the time to actually look into it I’d have found out sooner, but that’s how great it was. There was actually heated debates over whether or not this was real.

For evidence on how over-saturated the industry is in found footage movies, look no further than the recent Blair Witch sequel, cleverly titled Blair Witch. No one has questioned whether or not it’s real. We know now it’s not.

This actually makes me wonder; if they actually found footage of something like this (or anything), would they even be allowed to release it as a film? I’m sure they’d need the family’s permission, but I’m sure i’d also be considered evidence, because the police would likely consider these murders and not supernatural happenings.

I’ve yet to see the sequel (either of them, but I refuse to acknowledge the existence of Book of Shadows other than to denounce it’s existence), but I can already tell that its not going to be as good as the original, simply because it doesn’t have the same feeling as the original going in.

This film does have a strong sense of terrifying claustrophobia about it. With all the arguing, especially with the camera so close to everyone, it’s a very uncomfortable movie to watch. I’ve been lost in the woods before (though granted it was only a few hours), and I can totally see how they would have gotten to the point of nearly tearing each other apart after a few days.

So for every Cloverfield and Chronicle trying to wow audiences with realistic effects, all they really had to do is set the actors loss in the woods and let them improvise for a few days.