A few years ago when Unfriended came out, I was pretty sure I could skip it. It looked like a film with a gimmicky style and a flimsy story. I expected the device of taking place entirely on a computer screen would be annoying and hard to watch. And then one night, I don’t remember how, I found myself watching it. It’s a ton of fun and has become one of those movies that I tell people about when they ask for horror recommendations. Needles to say, I was looking forward to this sequel.
The premise to Dark Web is similar to the first Unfriended film. It starts off with a group of friends chatting on Skype, in this movie they have gotten together for a game night. Our main character, Matias, has a “new to him” laptop and discovers a hidden folder full of creepy videos and then things go completely insane. The plot is different from the first film in that there isn’t a supernatural element to this one, it’s very much set in the real world.
It also deals with some real world issues. The film is all about forcing us to look at how safe we are online and how much we have come to rely on technology. It’s mostly successful on this count. You’ll find yourself asking the questions, I’m not so sure the movie is interested in providing any sort of answers though.
One thing that Dark Web gets right is allowing time at the beginning of the story to setup the characters and allowing us to get a sense of their relationships with one another. This is a tougher task than usual because we are just seeing everyone through their webcams. Other than Matias, it is impossible for us to know what they are doing, saying or thinking while they are off camera. I felt like I knew who these people were and how they related to each other however and it never felt like the movie abandoned those roles. That is a credit to both the cast and the director.
The film is mostly effective. It pulls you along at a pretty good pace and builds upon what has already happened as things continue to get crazier. The scares work and the feeling of creepiness is present as soon as things start to kick in. I am bothered by the decision to release this with two separate endings. The ending that I saw worked fine. From what I have read about the other ending, most people seemed to prefer it and it seems to work as well. I guess, I don’t like the idea of using movie goers as a paying test audience. If the filmmakers were torn between the two endings, a decision should have been made. I can’t think of any logical reason that it was released this way.
The only other complaint that I have about the movie has to do with an effect that they used. Without giving anything away, there are times when there is no way to avoid having the “bad guys” on camera. Part of the intrigue of the movie is the mystery surrounding them. This is addressed by using an effect that scrambles the screen when one of them is on camera. It’a not explained at all but from what I was able to deduce they have some sort of special clothing that interferes with the cameras signal. It’s not a terrible idea. It does however become extremely annoying after the first couple of times that it happens. It quickly becomes less creepy and just plain distracting.
If you enjoyed Unfriended, there is no reason that you won’t enjoy Unfriended: Dark Web. Both movies play with the same filmmaking devices and examine some of the same subjects. This won’t be the best movie that you see all year but it is a lot of fun. My advice is to check logic at the door and enjoy the story, you won’t be disappointed.