Tuesday, 5 May 2015

REVIEW - UNFRIENDED (LEVAN GABRIADZE)


The most successful horror films (that is, those which reap the most success from their conceit, rather than those which reap the most cash from the public) give you a convincing reason to suspend your disbelief. Unfriended has one of those, though it's clueless as to how to put it in place; the film has both the startling scariness and the contextual chills to excel as a genre touchstone, but neither the wit nor the care to present itself as such. It's a good idea married to solid technique, but the spark of real filmmaking innovation is absent. It's designed as a twist on horror film conventions, though Unfriended comes across as the inverse of that, as a genuinely fresh concept marred by conventional execution. As limited as certain elements of the acting and the dialogue may be, however, they're only passable at worst. It's the technological perspective, with the entire film (or thereabouts) occurring within the confines of a computer display, that represents the strongest source of innovation for Unfriended, and it also represents the film's strongest individual attribute. Used both smartly and accurately, it contributes a stylised, memorable design that director Levan Gabriadze employs to explore a fresh angle on the spatial dynamics that are so essential to the horror genre. Yet that sits separate from the film's other raison d'etre, being its thoughts on bullying and teen suicide. Trite as they may sound to read, Unfriended has the potential to explore a fresh angle on these themes too, and mostly wastes that potential. It boasts that highly convincing reason to spin off into supernatural silliness as wildly as it likes, and as it does indeed, but the work has not been put into fleshing out this reason and connecting it to Unfriended's actual content.