Fantasia 2018: Unfriended: Dark Web [Review]

Simon Rother

UnfriendedBe careful whose laptop you use, because you might be dealing with some of the darkest things, and darkest individuals, that you have ever dealt with before. We discover a slim portion of what goes on in the underworld of the internet in “Unfriended: Dark Web,” the sequel to the 2014 “Unfriended” (a.k.a. “Cybernatural”), which made its international premiere in an advanced screening at this summer’s Fantasia International Film Festival, in Montreal.

Matias (Colin Woodell; “Paranoia” and the upcoming “The Purge” TV series) obtains a used laptop which he uses for the first time when participating in an online ‘game night’ with his friends in a Skype group chat. When his computer starts shutting programs on its own, he asks a computer-savvy friend what might be wrong. After discovering some hidden files that are overloading the computer’s hard-drive, he ventures into the videos, only to discover some disturbing clips of things the normal human being shouldn’t be seeing. Soon after, Matias is contacted by the laptop’s former owner who can see and hear everything that is going on. He wants his property back; otherwise things will take a sinister turn for our main character and his friends.

If you didn’t like the first “Unfriended”, you’re not gonna like this one. If the fact that the original film was seen through the “eyes” of webcams and social media made you sneer in disgust, then stay away steer away. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised by the first motion picture. I suppose I wasn’t expecting much and was impressed by the development of evil lurking through social media.

In “Unfriended: Dark Web,” we have some believable and related characters, who are portrayed, for the most part, brilliantly by actors such as Betty Gabriel (“Get Out” and “The Purge: Election Year”), Chelsea Alden (“13 Reasons Why” and “American Horror Story: Cult”), Connor Del Rio (“Key and Peel” and “Chicago P.D.”), and Andrew Lees (“The Originals” and “Band of Brothers: The Pacific”). What I enjoyed even more in this installment of the “Unfriended” series compared to the first is that I related a bit more to the characters, being a little older than the ones from the previous film. Despite having one love-related storyline, there was less teenage-cheesiness in this movie.

The tension level only escalates as the dark secrets of the laptop unfold. Once Matias realizes that he is being observed, everything he does is calculated so that nobody is harmed. Of course, there is the usual comedic relief here and there, and they are appreciated, with so much disconcerting events taking place.

Writer and director Stephen Susco (writer for “The Grudge,” “The Grudge 2” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”) was directing his very first film with this project (he was also present at Fantasia for the screening of “Unfriended: Dark Web” and mentioned that we were the first audience to see the final product of the movie before it was released in theaters). He does a fantastic job at putting together a great storyline with some inventive ways to keep us interested in what is occurring on Matias’ computer screen.

What I truly appreciated in the script of this film is that, without spoiling anything, because you must watch it for yourself to appreciate and enjoy it, is that Susco went out of his way to find a different “source of evil” that would stray from the one in the first film. Rather than having a vengeful spirit who executes justice to wrongdoers, the main villain in this installment is something more realistic, plausible, disturbing, and terrifying. In addition to this, the layers of malicious individuals only keep piling up as the movie progresses.

If you don’t mind a “computer-filmed screen” experience, then you must do yourself a favor and go view Stephen Susco’s film when it releases later this week. It deserves a solid 4 stars out of 5, from my part. “Unfriended: Dark Web” is released in theaters this Friday, July 20th, 2018.

4 / 5 stars     


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