Review / Unfriended: Dark Web ★★

Director : Stephen Susco
Starring: Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Andrew Lees

Unfriended: Dark Web could have been an intriguing & uncomfortable look at the dark underworld of the internet, but unfortunately it fast becomes a joke of a horror, resorting to cheap plays for shocks. A stand alone sequel to Unfriended, Dark Web follows on with the unique concept of story telling in real time via various online platforms.

During one of their frequent Skype based game nights with his friends, Matias, our protagonist, who has picked up a recently purchased used laptop, notices that the previous owner of the computer may not have been your usual customer, and soon discovers a dark secret buried deep within the hardrive. It’s not before long, that the a mysterious presence online takes their game night hostage.

The first half of the film is actually rather captivating, the idea of using Skype/Facebook, and the presence of apps like Spotify, as the main methods of communication is a great way to make the film connect with the young audience it’s trying to reach out to.  The initial stages of when our protagonists starts to suspect something more sinister may be in play, is where it’s at its best. The feeling of being constantly being threatened and harassed online by an anonymous presence is something we can all fear. And as our group of friends dig deeper into the murky world they stumble upon, things do genuinely feel disturbing. Especially as they browse through the video files that are stored in the laptop. It works the scares without resorting to any jump scares or cliche tactics. The feeling that everyone move online is being watched is something we all understand.

While that may be the best part of the film, the rest of it is pretty tepid, especially for a ‘horror’. The group of friends, you never really care for, nor do they possess any quality that makes them worth caring for.  Damon, our hacker friend from London is probably the only one who contributes to the plot, the rest are pretty much cannon fodder. Our main character is supremely unlikable, his actions are very selfish and his relationship with his deaf girlfriend seems very unbelievable.  The girlfriend is also played off as idiotically stupid, she is deaf, this shouldn’t make her dumb by default, her actions are shockingly awful throughout the film! Hopefully the plan was to make Mathias be hated, otherwise it’s a massive fail!

Once the villain is revealed, the film becomes laughable, cheesy dialogue between our villain and Mathias is comically bad, and the cheap phasing effects of screen whenever he appeared looked absurd whenever it happened. The original film had a supernatural vibe to it, there is none of that here, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole ‘darknet’ concept could have been used extremely well, but what the film eventually descends into, maybe they should have stuck with the supernatural plot. The film never feels like a horror, and really could have been marketed more as a thriller. They never shows anything too graphic, and the death scenes are rather tame compared to what happened in the first film.

It’s just a shame that the movie couldn’t run with the ideas it planted at the start of the movie, what could have been an engrossing story, just fades into a forgettable 90 minutes.

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