This Is a Movie Review: Unfriended: Dark Web

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Unfriended: Dark Web repeats the same format and many of the same methods as the first Unfriended, but the feelings it inspires are of a different breed. The original was a dark morality tale about some truly awful teenagers experiencing karmic justice. But the twenty-somethings in Dark Web all appear to be decent human beings, yet the fates they experience are even worse. It is a thoroughly cruel movie, though I hesitate to call it mean-spirited, as the type of sadistic evil it presents does exist in the real world, and it can therefore work as a bleak warning.

Once again, the action unspools via Skype conversation and other laptop applications. Instead of a vengeful ghost, the big bad this time is a network of criminal hackers. Their technical prowess strains credulity, though it might be a case of sufficiently advanced (fictional) technology appearing like magic to us. (It might have been a good idea to explain it a tad.) Standout features include the difficulty of communicating via sign language over a computer and a particularly fraught case of the dilemma of being forced to choose which of two loved ones gets to survive. Telling the entire story on a laptop screen is once again initially disorienting but then disarmingly natural. Overall, my reaction to Dark Web is much like my reaction to Phantom Thread: I appreciate how well-made it is, but the experience of watching it is just so unpleasant.

I give Unfriended: Dark Web 3 Trephinations out of 5 Facebook Messages.

Best Movie Scenes of 2015

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The best mini-movies that had us rocking in and falling out of our seats in the past year.


10. Jurassic World, T. Rex vs. Indominus Rex – A.K.A the 2015 Late Night War.


Best Films of 2015, 11-20

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I already posted my top 10 list, but wouldn’t you know it, there were plenty of other great movies. Here are three less than a baker’s dozen worth:

11. Mad Max: Fury Road – Charlize barks at the moon, giving us our most iconic image of 2015.
12. Krampus – The tricks are a treat, as is the teamwork among a dysfunctional family.
13. Creed – Adonis unapologetically forges ahead to be true to his identity and establish his family.
14. Sleeping with Other People – The question this time isn’t, “Can men and women be friends without wanting to sleep with each other?” but “Why wouldn’t they if they like each other enough?”
15. The Visit – Right at home on the corner of creepy and hilarious.
16. Brooklyn – Even when Eilis Lacey’s life is hard, there is so much love in her world.
17. Unfriended – The most formally ingenious movie in years, perhaps decades even.
18. The Peanuts Movie – Charlie Brown is preternaturally neurotic; ergo, this one’s a thinker.
19. Room – Tight corners promote empathy.
20. Furious 7 – The first F&F movie in which I actually remembered some of the plot aftewards.

The 21 Best Horror Movies Since 2000

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The AV Club recently posted their list of the best horror films since the turn of the century, so I came up with my own list:


21. Piranha 3D
20. [REC]
19. Final Destination 5
18. Mama
17. Let Me In
16. The Visit


This Is a (Quickie) Movie Review: Unfriended

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Unfriended, at heart, is a typical one-by-one mystery killer story. Ergo, it is not particularly scary. So when a horror movie is not very scary, it needs to be interesting. And boy, is it interesting. Essentially the entire running time takes place on an Apple laptop. With all the Chrome tabs, Skype windows, Spotify’s, Messenger’s, Recycle Bins, and desktop icons, I at first thought it was going to be exhausting, but then I soon remembered that I am used to all that.

It succeeds at relentlessly exploiting its killer premise and withholding information until the most effective moments. While I very much enjoyed it, it is not something I would jump at watching again, as all the characters are just terrible friends to each other. The best word to describe this movie is “nasty.” It’s a cautionary tale, a nasty movie for nasty people.