Unfriended: Dark Web Will Make You Too Scared To Skype
According to Unfriended: Dark Web, it’s not our AI overlords we should be fearing (just yet)—it’s the keyboard thugs of the dark web, who wield code like Kalashnikovs and kill for sport. The sequel, from the producer of Get Out, The Purge, and the makers of the original Unfriended movie, ditches the original’s haunted tech motif for simple human depravity. At the root of all the evil that goes down over the course of the film’s 88-minute runtime is a faceless group of hacking enthusiasts with bank accounts full of bitcoin and a fondness for bespoke snuff films—the more cruel and drawn out, the better.
The plot goes down in real time and the movie is filmed as though we’re watching it through a webcam (that thing I’ve long had a piece of tape over). We meet each character—a group of college grads in their twenties—through the lens of a laptop screen as they gather for their regular “game night.” One of them, Mathias, has found (read: stolen) a laptop that connects them to the dark web… and all the bad stuff that bad people like to do there. The laptop itself is loaded with clips that range from creepy to scary to very, very murder-y. Suddenly, the group is drawn into a scheme that threatens the lives of each one of them and the people they love.
Unfriended manages to say something about the way we’ve become perpetually glued to our screens, even in the face of pure horror. We’re unable to do anything about it except click and watch and click and keep watching as though real problems can be solved with “likes” from the comfort of our couches. With so many concrete things taking up residence on the internet (stores, libraries, newspapers, your money), have brick-and-mortar and flesh-and-blood entities also become less real in our minds? Is seeing your friend killed on YouTube different than seeing them killed right before your eyes? What if you’re watching the death in real time?
It’s not a question you’re likely to ever have to answer, but what about this: how many videos of people dying in war zones or at the hands of terrorists do you have to watch until you stop seeing the victims as “real”? Until the internet has helped to desensitise you to that kind of suffering? Until the number of bodies gets too large to process?
I can’t give the film credit for actually posing these kinds of questions, but it does make you think about how the internet has changed our social lives, the way we communicate with each other, and the value we put on certain things. Unfriended 2 has some serious flaws: Not white? You die first. Female? Expect a long, drawn-out death preceded by a bunch of torture. The movie’s strengths lie in its clever use and manipulation of online culture (there’s a Swatting death you see coming from a mile away, but the execution of it is still pretty smart).
Unfriended: Dark Web is out July 20. Check out the trailer below.