‘Unfriended’ – a movie to unfriend

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

Imagine this scenario: the movie I intended to see for review is sold out. It is necessary to punt. A movie called “Unfriended” is about to start.

“Unfriended.” Hmm, I muse. That’s a Facebook term, isn’t it? Or something close enough. Hey, maybe this is “You’ve Got Mail” for the 21st century. Sell me that ticket for seat G-13.

And that is how I ended up in the same room with a strangely silly little horror movie that takes “10 Little Indians” into the Internet era.

In this case, the haunted house is an online chat room where a half dozen high school buddies discover an intruder who may or may not be the cyber-ghost of a classmate who committed suicide a year ago to the day. It is strongly hinted that cyber-bullying — facilitated by these same kids — may have been a factor.

Talk about the ghost in the machine…

"Unfriended" movie shot

“Unfriended” movie shot

However, in “Unfriended,” the machine trumps the ghost. That is, director Levan Gabriadze’s gimmick — the entire picture takes place on one of the protagonist’s laptop — is the only original thing going on. The rest consists of tiresome Dead Teen clichés that have haunted movie theaters since the days of “Halloween III.”  You said I slept with whom? You said I had what eating disorder? You…well, you get my drift.

Worse, perhaps — or maybe just more laughable — are the various ways the teens off themselves (hey, is that REALLY a spoiler?). One seems to have blender-ed himself to death. Another — and I’m sorry if this is as offensive as it sounds — apparently committed death by dildo.

Or maybe not. The picture’s greatest strength — the it’s-all-online gimmickry — is also one of its greatest weaknesses. Sometimes, you truly can’t tell what’s going on as our young people pant and scream and try pushing every button they know.

Except the off button.

Um, I mean, the log-off button…I think…

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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