UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB was a very pleasant, entertaining surprise. Categorized as part of the new film genre calling itself “desktop horror,” the movie takes place entirely on a Mac , where the story and plot thickens all on one screen. It is a quasi-sequel to 2014’s Unfriended, meaning that it doesn’t continue with the story developed in that one at all. It looks as though they have decided to take the brand name and make it into an anthology series, rather than just repeating all the same shit the first one did. And it is a great decision. The first one functioned primarily on supernatural elements, where a girl committed suicide at school, and haunts and kills her former friends that were responsible for her death one by one while they are on a nightly Skype chat. I actually like the first one a little bit. It was entertaining and kept my attention, although the kills were unimaginative, CGI heavy, with quick cuts to hide the CGI. The first one also relied on that girls’ ghost playing “Never Have I Ever” with the friends most of its run time, and it got old pretty fast. This new film does away with all of that. There are no supernatural elements in this. Even though I’m sure all the technical hacking jargin is a bunch of made up bullshit, the more realistic tone and plot in this film made everything scarier, creepier, and livelier.
I mentioned hacking earlier, the film deals with a lot of that, hence the subtitle ‘Dark Web.’ I am not a techie so I have no clue what they were talking about actually exists in that lingo (my guess is probably not). I want to somewhat tell you the plot of this film, but at its most stripped down bare bones basic description so I don’t ruin any of the surprises. A man finds a laptop at an internet cafe he goes to that was unclaimed for weeks, and since his laptop was slow as shit and he was trying to build some nifty new apps, decided to take it. He boots up the computer to try it out on a game night of Skype with his friends. He soon learns though that he probably shouldn’t have taken the computer. That’s all I’m going to say, because anything else would ruin the fun. While the first film did have relationship arcs between the friends, there wasn’t as much fleshing out of the characters that there should have been, and those relationships were mostly just ‘sexual encounters’ with several of them cheating on each other. The first film also had great acting by Shelly Hennig, (from Teen Wolf who is very underrated), but the rest of the actors in that one were over the top or too nuanced. In this film, there is a very sweet love story going on between the main character and his deaf girlfriend, and it also has another relationship between two women that was heartfelt as well. Also, in this film, all of the actors are actually pretty damn good, with their character arcs a little more fleshed out considering it is a 90 minute film. When any of them are screaming at the computer, it felt like they were really traumatized.
Also, the deaths, (I mean, come on, that’s not so much a spoiler because you know these horror films has to have a least two or more people kick the bucket) actually pack a punch because of the scenarios that lead to their demise. The first ones death kind of just happen at random, but in this one, everything is meticulously set up in the beginning so each character arc pays off. There were even moments in this when I had my hand covering my mouth and my jaw open. The film also doesn’t rely on jump scares either. There are still one or two, but the shock and awe of everything is figuring out what is really going on and the consequences of those revelations.
So that’s all I’m going to say. If you liked the first one, you’ll like this one so much more. Also, there are two endings to this film going around, it just depends on what theater got which ending or what not. Once I learned that, I looked up what the other ending was after my film was over. After reading what transpired, my conclusion is that each ending packs quite a punch, but I felt like mine made a little more sense to what was set up before hand. Maybe the blu-ray or digital copy when it comes out to view at hom, will have both endings where I can watch the entire movie again, but with the other ending, to see if what I read works on screen. I know there is another “desktop thriller,” coming out next month with John Cho called Searching, which after seeing Dark Web, I’m really interested now in checking out. But for this anthology series, as long as you make them interesting, my weird taste in movies will watch them.