“Unfriended: Dark Web” stars Colin Woodell, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, Stephanie Nogueras, and Savira Windyani. Released on July 20, 2018, the film is about a teen who discovers a laptop that carries disturbing secrets in the files.
The film features the directorial debut of Stephen Susco, who is known for writing films such as “The Grudge” and “Texas Chainsaw 3D”. It is a stand-alone sequel to the 2014 horror film, “Unfriended”. This is yet another film that you haven’t noticed until now since it was shot in secret last year. “Unfriended” was a pretty creepy experience for me when I first saw it in theaters a couple of years ago. It had the usual supernatural horror tropes, but it had enough suspense to keep my heart racing until the very end. So now we have a typical horror sequel that doesn’t connect to its predecessor and promises to put less focus on the supernatural elements and more focus on real-life horror. That’s what I can gather based on the trailer I saw while viewing “Upgrade” last month. Does it deliver on that promise? More importantly, is it good enough to warrant its own existence?
Similar to its predecessor, the film takes place entirely on a computer screen via found-footage, so be prepared to explore some of the main character’s personal stuff for about an hour and a half…again. The story revolves around teenager Matias O’Brien (Woodell), who is working on a new laptop that he bought. He soon discovers that the laptop is not only carrying a bunch of creepy files, but it also belongs to the original owner who will do absolutely anything to get it back. This is another horror sequel that took the qualities that made its predecessor disturbing and effective and applied them to here. Unfortunately, this is also another horror sequel that failed to live up to the original. It had plenty of interesting elements that would've made the audiences care for the characters as well as a timely message that explores the consequences of looking into someone's personal stuff. However, the film's stale attempt at providing a sense of disturbance resulted in a hasty disconnection between scares and substance. The main elements that made the first film what it was is its sense of realism and its blend of mystery and tension. Aside from the supernatural tropes, “Unfriended” effectively showcased how the characters are dealing with the situation like it was a real thing, largely due to Levan Gabriadze’s direction. Luckily, Stephen Susco was able to mimic those elements for the follow-up with some suitable, yet flawed, results. The reasons why they were flawed were the lack of shock value on the death scenes and the character development. The death scenes in this one were surprisingly tame compared to the ones in its predecessor, which can be troublesome for those who are somehow into brutal and shocking deaths in some films. As for the characters themselves, like I said before, there was an attempt at making them interesting or caring, mostly the relationship between Matias and his deaf girlfriend Amaya (played by Stephanie Nogueras), but because of its main focus on scaring its audience, its average storytelling, and its predictable ending, it felt like the characters were just there to be victims of this grim game. On the plus side, the cast did a solid job at providing a sense of fear and concern to their characters, especially Woodell as Matias. Connor Del Rio was pretty amusing as AJ, one of Matias’ friends, although his acting can get a bit over-the-top during a couple of scenes.
Overall, “Unfriended: Dark Web” has the right clicks, but the disconnection between scares and substance made itself hard for the audience to access compared to the original. Despite a solid cast and its combination of mystery, realism, and tension, the film suffers from its usual flaws that I experienced from the other horror films, resulting in another average fright-fest. Still better than last year’s “Friend Request”, by the way. Also, the film was released in theaters with two different endings, which are played at random. If you’re wondering which ending I got, it was the original ending. I didn’t even bother wanting to watch it again in order to get the second ending, so I looked it up on Wikipedia when I got home, and I got to say, I was glad that I didn’t get that ending. They both feature the same result for the main character, but if I would to choose which ending I prefer, it would be the original ending and nothing else. If you’re familiar with the first film or if you wanted some good old-fashioned tension, it’s worth watching at home, either as a rental or on cable.