Unfriended is the perfect internet movie

It is no exaggeration to say that the Internet has fundamentally reshaped life, the world, and perhaps even how we perceive reality. So why did so few films of the past few decades agree with this frightening fact? Doing so is perhaps a negative admission that cinema is losing the battle to attract attention into the web’s endless abyss. Or maybe it’s just that filmmakers haven’t quite figured out the secret to making people stare at small screens — the prevalent activity of our time — visually exciting or interesting. Whatever the reason, it’s a very short list of films that have a lot to say about technological advancements that have changed everything.

Toward the top of that list, perhaps at the top, is not a friend. Yes, really: it’s still one of the few films released in the wake of our mass virtual exodus to gather any real perspective on it. eight years ago, not a friend The sighs of skeptical horror aficionados silenced (“Oh great, another FeardotComby turns out to be a lot smarter than the log line or his title might suggest. Today, one can go as far as calling it an essential picture of the 21st century – a thriller that captures not only how many of us now live everyday life but the way In which digital screaming has replaced the natural fabric of society, with empathy like a great victim.

The first thing we see not a friend It is a modified version of Universal Pictures’ vanity card: as a glowing globe spins through space, the image and subject matter accompanying antagonists distort and disintegrate, shattering this familiar introduction into an unfamiliar chaos of digital noise. It’s a perfect opening expression of the film’s idea of ​​the Internet as a destabilizing filter for ones and zeros, spoiling our perspective on the world and each other.

Conspiracy , not a friend It is basically an online version of I know what you did last summer. Half a dozen junior high school friends log in for a group video chat about what turns out to be a year until one day since their classmate, Laura Barnes, committed suicide after embarrassing cell phone footage of her went viral. Over the course of about 80 minutes, we learned to what extent Laura’s supposed friends were responsible for her public humiliation; Revealing their guilt is the digital ghost of the deceased, and enacted her supernatural revenge through tactics that escalate from lurking to harassment, oops, your hand is in the blender.

Its entire story unfolds in real time, with one uninterrupted shot (indeed, several time-consuming being seamlessly pieced together) of a laptop screen.

This slim, hideous story proves less well known than the way director Leo Gabriadze tells it. not a friend It takes the form of a screen length feature for the MacBook. This means that her entire narrative unfolds in real time, through a single uninterrupted snapshot (indeed, multiple times stitched together seamlessly) of a laptop screen. We see the main character, Blaire (Shelley Hennig), only through the lens of her webcam. Her friends appear as faces in Skype boxes, sometimes obscured by the various applications and windows that occupy the rectangular frame of the Blaire desktop.

not a friend It wasn’t the first movie to adopt this trick, which producer Timur Bekmambetov later dubbed Screenlife: Nacho Vigalondo and Joe Swanberg provided earlier versions of it, not to mention a clever Google ad that told an entire love story through search results. But it was Gabriadze and Bekmambetov who elevated the format into a direction (and perhaps an art form) by fully exploiting its potential. what or what The Blair Witch Project is finding screenshots, not a friend is the action movie on laptop: the most committed and compelling app for the new storytelling device.

While many films, even electronic thrillers, turn to public, fictional websites and search engines, Gabriadze’s perks are almost identical to the interface, thanks to his use of real apps and everyday reference destinations: Google, Gmail, Facebook, Spotify, iMessage, Skype Every factor in plot mechanics and visual vocabulary. It’s funny to think how completely unintelligible this movie was to audiences in, say, the mid-’90s when Hollywood movies were so popular. pirates And the the network They were dipping a temporary toe into the waters of internet culture. Blaire shuffles, browses, and manipulates multiple layers of graphic information with the ease of multitasking for someone who has grown up online—meaning exactly the way a target demographic can.

It’s remarkable how the film adapts second nature’s web browsing habits to new ways of presenting information, be it illustrative or psychological.

not a friend It is key in how everyone, especially the younger generation, communicates and works in the age of the Internet. It’s remarkable how the film adapts second nature’s web browsing habits to new ways of presenting information, be it illustrative or psychological. Backstory is dispensed with via social media posts and links to news articles; We learned that Laura was bullied online until she committed suicide through the gradual process Blaire took to memorialize her apparently hacked Facebook account. Instead of the usual expert on the paranormal involved to explain the nature of the matter that haunts you, not a friend Tabs to a blog post. Most inspiring is the moment Blaire writes and rewrites a letter about Laura’s traumatic past, searching for the right words—a bit of guesswork that tells us something about the two girls.

This is a new horror language, one steeped in supposed familiarity with computer hiccups. Giving new meaning to the phrase “wheel of death” not a friend It creates hopping fears of power outages and freezing of faulty connection frames, creating suspense with inappropriate feeding breaks and shocking with images of death and horror on screen when Wi-Fi suddenly returns. Even common elements of online interaction are threatened by context: message notifications drop in the upper right corner of the frame inspiring you, and the usual faceless silhouette of the default profile picture suddenly begins to resemble a Michael Myers mask or a Ghostface mask – although of course, he understands Totally filmmakers that seeing a blank avatar in your replies or chat window is already a sign that you’re about to have an annoying interaction.

Much of the horror is about creating a sense of normalcy and then violently, supernaturally disrupting it. not a friend It goes along with this idea by presenting an exact copy of normal and mundane online activity that can lead to instability. Like those watching from home, Blaire and her friends know their favorite apps and websites inside and out. Long before they could get hold of putting a blade or a gun on their body, teens were horrified by the evidence that something wasn’t right – the way, say, the disappearance of Facebook’s report/block button (a really painful development for anyone who spends any amount of time on Facebook). social media) or how it looks like the photos are automatically uploaded to their pages. if jaws Make the crowd afraid to go to the beach and sociological patient made them afraid to take a shower, not a friend He has the hidden power to make his viewers think twice before logging in.

not a friend It goes beyond portraying lambs on the way to the slaughter as hateful idiots hungry for sex and drugs.

Of course, the real threat Laura Barnes poses to these doomed teens is exposure. She is like an illusory black light, revealing all the dirty sins of her social circle. Is this a 21st century nightmare: being held accountable for the things you said or did out of the supposed security of anonymity online? It’s standard necropsy protocol that makes us hate kids who are being beaten up one by one by a vengeful killer. But not a friend It goes beyond portraying lambs on the way to the slaughter as hateful idiots hungry for sex and drugs. They are truly terrible people, liars who hide their betrayals from the world and from each other – a gruesome fact that comes to light in full during the film’s centerpiece sequence, Never Have I Ever game with life-or-death stakes.

This is the place not a friend It goes from ingenious fun to something more perceptive. Cyber-bullying victims turned victims of Laura have learned to separate their public image from their images Self Photo, of the toxic impulses they indulge in from their keyboards. What they’re doing online doesn’t effectively “count” – it could also be a different person secretly posting that embarrassing video or telling that peer to go kill themselves. They are experts, in other words, at fragmentation. The film reflects that black talent in many visual and conceptual ways: dividing the frame into boxes and boxes within boxes; Create overlapping layers of conversation, such as when what Blair tells the group about goes awry about the private letters she writes to her boyfriend (Musa Storm).

You could tell that the real horror the movie exploits is the sociopathy of web culture – how so many behave in a way online that they have never acted in person. not a friendIts expert reproduction Night on the Computer, devoid of any vanity cheats (no magnifications in certain quarters of the Blair screen, no first-person breaks, no escaping claustrophobia for the stunt), creates the impression that an entire life lives between the four artificial walls for a laptop screen. The film concludes in the end that disappearing in that life means separation from reality as we have known it for a long time. Online, it’s easy to forget who you are, or the user on the other side of the digital void is a person too – an idea reinforced, with vague comic inspiration, by the Blaire scene spinning quickly during chat sessions, cries for help ignored by strangers, like The legend of Kitty Genovese.

not a friendThe accusation of the Internet as an open opportunity for cruelty remains as troubling as ever.

not a friend I’ve gotten quite a bit older, both culturally and technologically, over the past decade or so. (Are there still teens using Facebook? anyone Still using Skype?) But her condemnation of the internet as an open opportunity for cruelty is still annoyingly important than ever. The film does not dissuade anyone, not even the heroine of the film: a final revelation implicates her too – and therefore, the viewer, who lives the events of the film from exactly the same perspective, is provoked to think about possible lapses in sympathy. Our apps and websites may change, but there is no indication that the Internet as a direct medium (and tool) for sadistic abuse has changed.

It’s in the dark last seconds not a friend Finally out of POV, Blaire shuts down the laptop we’ve been watching over her proverbial shoulder and confronts a real world that exists outside her online bubble, along with some very real consequences. Whether that last ghostly jolt sounds like a nightmare come true or a fantasy of actual punishment for online harassers in the world may depend on whether you finished or received the abuse – or perhaps on how well you believe in yourself that it’s all fun and games in the digital world.

not a friend Currently streaming on Netflix. For more reviews and writing by AA Dowd, visit his author page.

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