Unfriended: Dark Web
If the first Unfriended was Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, its standalone sequel is The Dark Net by Jamie Bartlett. Much of Unfriended: Dark Web feels lifted out of the book’s investigations into the dark crevices of the Internet – referencing encrypted servers, drug deals, weapon deals, cryptocurrency, child porn, hackers and trolls. This debut Skype-horror from Grudge writer Stephen Susco attempts to address the dark net and its reign of terror over a cluster of tech-savvy millennials. It’s like the director is eager to explode the viewer’s technophobia.
Matias (Colin Woodell) works at a cyber-café and steals a laptop from the lost-and-found. He goes into a group Skype chat with his friends (some scattered around the world) for their ritual game night playing Cards Against Humanity. But when Matias discovers an ominous folder of dark video files on the laptop, the previous owner leaves him a menacing Facebook message: he wants his laptop back. Matias and the group become wrapped up in a darker game than they expected.
Unlike the first film, the latest instalment doesn’t need a paranormal presence in the Wi-Fi to freak out the audience: Susco just needs the real world – albeit a censored one. The real dark net wouldn’t shy away from showing explicit violence as much as this filmmaker does, but perhaps that level of horrific realism is too much to expect from a studio genre-movie.
There’s still enough to make the audience tremble. The realities underlying the narrative are unsettling, despite the convoluted plot. We see stories in the news all the time about people tracking what we’re doing online. The risk to privacy could be life-threatening, which is probably why more horror movies are focusing on the internet as a source for scares (August sees the release of both Slender Man and Searching). This feature taps into this fear and fills the screen with it.
Unfriended: Dark Web is a chilling stepping-stone to a genre that’s slowly emerging: the cyber-horror. It’s not quite reached its full potential, and its limits are obvious: namely, how will it look in ten years? Even five? The first Unfriended is only four years old, and even that’s starting to age as OSX continues to update. But, for now, the film stands as a decent modern horror movie that’ll make viewers want to cover their webcams.
Unfriended: Dark Web is released nationwide on 10th August 2018.
Watch the trailer for Unfriended: Dark Web here: