It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The formal experiment of "Unfriended" is intriguing. Here is a movie that takes place in real time and in which everything we see is limited to whatever is on the screen of the main character's computer. The concept is not new, of course, although this might be the first time that such a conceit is portrayed without any attempt at embellishment. Director Levan Gabriadze and screenwriter Nelson Greaves restrict the characters to the space immediately near their computers, save for a moment in which one character picks up his laptop and walks around his house.
Otherwise, we're witnessing a lengthy conversation between a group of six teenagers that switches between video-chat and text-messaging sessions. That is until a supernatural force makes it a conversation between five teenagers, and then four, and so on and so forth.
The movie possesses two fatal miscalculations: 1.) All of these characters are self-absorbed, unsympathetic bores; 2.) It simply is not very interesting to watch video chats and text messages, particularly when the participants are of the sort described in item No. 1. The majority of the movie is spent staring at static web browser and program windows on Blaire's (Shelley Hennig) desktop. Within those windows are smaller video boxes featuring close-ups of her friends or text bubbles featuring the written exchanges between two characters in the typical, lazy shorthand of online communication. One imagines the shortcut to a dictionary program in the bottom left of the screen is an inside joke for those who prefer proper spelling and grammar in their written communiqués.
Through these exchanges, we learn that, a year ago to the day, a teenage girl named Laura (Heather Sossaman) committed suicide after a video of her in an embarrassing, drunken stupor emerged online. Blaire and her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Jacob Storm) start a sexually charged video chat that involves him wielding a knife and "jokingly" threatening her with it if she doesn't remove her shirt. He's a real stand-up guy, that Mitch.