Don’t judge Unfriended: Dark Web by its predecessor

Unfriended photo via Allied IM PR
Unfriended photo via Allied IM PR /

Blumhouse returns to the found footage genre with Unfriended: Dark Web. The original Unfriended received mixed reviews but the new entry seems to have fixed some of the flaws.

The horror genre is stronger than ever these days. In the past two years alone we’ve had Get Out, HereditaryA Quiet Place, the It reboot, and a new addition to The Purge series. All of these films have been highly profitable, if not well received. Most horror films are made on small budgets, which gives the creators plenty of room for error. Blumhouse is clearly aware of this as they continue to pump out movies and push creative boundaries with their content.

The latest entry from Blumhouse is Unfriended: Dark Web. Dark Web follows the general concept from Unfriended  (2015) as it is a found-footage film that takes place completely on computer screens. However, if you hated the first don’t be deterred. The creators seem to have learned from their mistakes with the first movie and came back with a much more fathomable story.

The setup

In Dark Web, Matias (Colin Woodell) gets a new laptop and proceeds to start using it for his routine activities. One of those activities is a group-video game night with friends who live in other places. Their game night is interrupted, however, as Matias tries to clear the contents of the computer but can’t get rid of one strange folder. It eventually comes out that he did not buy the computer like he originally claimed, and the owner wants it back.

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One of the best things about the found footage genre is the tension it creates. We’re forced to see the movie through a small lens and it leaves you more susceptible to surprises. Watching Unfriended: Dark Web, I struggled to sit still in the theater as the tension continued to increase throughout the movie. Unlike traditional films, there are no cooling off periods. Once things start happening they continue to until the conclusion.

For anyone that has been to Disneyworld, this is the movie version of Space Mountain. You’re on a roller coaster, in the dark, not knowing what’s coming next. Even if there is a brief lull in the action, you don’t know when the next drop is coming so you don’t get to relax. By the end of the movie, regardless of the outcome, there’s a sense of relief.

Grounded in reality

Part of the problem with the first iteration was that the supernatural element limited some of the creepiness factor. You can be creeped out by this in the moment but it doesn’t stick with you. In Dark Web, we’re faced with a situation that could seemingly happen. It will make you second guess buying a used computer.

Some of the people who disliked the first one also didn’t like that all of the people the spirit wanted to torment, just so happened to be together on this group chat. In Dark Web, there is no special reason that this group is being victimized. Besides Matias, the rest of the group was just unlucky enough to be his friends. It’s common for horror movies to try to connect all of the pieces but it’s not always necessary and Dark Web takes advantage of the “wrong place at the wrong time” scenario.

Ghost stories are fun, but there’s nothing more creepy than a tale that feels like it could actually happen to you.

Use of technology

In a lot of technology-based movies, the writers seem to have good intentions but the execution is poor. That is not the case here either. The way Matias navigated on the computer felt realistic and not forced. It didn’t feel like a gimmick and came across as natural. This allowed the medium not to get in the way of my enjoyment of the film which is key for this genre. The poor execution in this area is another reason people didn’t like the first iteration.

Beyond that, the use of dark web tactics was also executed well. Most of what you see being done was plucked from the headlines in one way or another, adding another layer to what made this film hit close to home.

Overall, it’s a fun movie

All in all, Dark Web is a fun ride. I wouldn’t say that it’s a must see but it is a good time. For me, it’s the type of movie that you want to see with a group of friends because you’re going to want to talk about it. If you don’t catch it in theaters, it’s a strong candidate for a movie night with a group of friends. I was disappointed when I saw the trailer because I feel like it shows too much. The less you know going in, the more intense the ride will be.

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Unfriended: Dark Web hits theaters for its wide release tonight so get your tickets!