Colin Woodell, Stephanie Nogueras, Betty Gabriel, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Andrew Lees, Connor Del Rio, Savira Windyani, more scary hacking than a weekend at Grandma’s, and an IT department headed by IT.
More details here.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Matias (Woodell) is a broke ass software developer who's having relationship problems with his deaf girlfriend Amaya (Nogueras). He is on the verge of a breakthrough on a product called Papaya which translates voice and sign language into text on a video chat platform. (Actually, not a bad idea). His story unfolds on his newly acquired laptop.
|"Logging into my favorite website Tremendo Time...tralala"|
He's scheduled to meet with his friends online on Skype. But things soon turn awry when we learn than the laptop he "acquired" may be stolen property, and the owner starts to contact him directly asking for it back.
|"Oh shit, he's reviewing another bad 70s horror movie..."|
As the owner's messaging grows increasingly menacing, Matias slowly learns he may be in over his head and is in real danger. So naturally, he involves his friends during the online gaming and chat session.
|"Another fart joke? Are you fucking kidding me, Tremendo?!!!"|
We learn that Matias actually stole the laptop from an internet cafe (really?) and the owner is part of a cabal of evil hackers, online perverts, scumbag torture trolls, and libertarians who destroy lives for their own amusement.
|A glimpse of Apple's new Aye-aye-aye-phone.|
One by one, the hackers wreak havoc on the Matias and his friends' lives, including Amaya who is unaware she's being stalked. All the friends can do is witness the horror unfold with top-notch fast and uninterrupted internet service. Fart!
|"Oh, Tremendo, you had so much potential."|
Along with its fellow 2014 release Open Windows, the original Unfriended used the then-fresh concept of telling a story about a killer stalking a group of friends online in real time, each of them subjected to a dangerous game tied into their troubled pasts. Told from the perspective of the main character’s desktop, the movie used social media, internet apps, and online software to not only deliver a relatively satisfying thriller, but also convey themes of trust, friendship, and the decay of social interaction in our current technological age. Simple as it was, it at least tried to even have a message backed by a plot with motive. This next chapter in the Unfriended series affords no such attempt at depth as it’s pure gimmick in which all of the characters are random victims of circumstance with little to no character development. Instead of an Eli Rothian torture chamber, the victims’ gruesome fates unfold live on the latest IO operating system. If this is supposed to be a more modern update of early 2000s torture porn, then for the most part it’s successful. But much like early 2000s torture porn, it’s not for me.
But what does work is how the movie depicts actual things that may and do happen like the vulnerability of home security cameras and other devices, the availability of personal information that can be easily accessed and used against someone also known as “doxing”, the ugly practice of “swatting” in which a false report prompts an aggressive police response, and the frightening tools available to hackers (and others if you spend the time to learn their methods) to destroy someone’s life. Less convincing is the speed and efficiency in which these diabolical tasks are executed, the almost supernatural ways in which the evil hackers’ identities were concealed, the fact that a YouTube conspiracy theorist has friends, and several head-scratching Bill Gates’ wallet-sized leaps in logic. Many story threads with potential are left hanging as nothing is done with Nogueras’ character who is only hearing-impaired for sake of plot convenience. Much like its predecessor, the cast is made up of relative unknowns, except for Gabriel who was terrific in 2017’s stunning Get Out. Woodell as the lovelorn Matias was particularly good at conveying sweaty paranoia as doom unfolds in the wake of his terribly stupid mistake. Unfriended: Dark Web works at picking at all-too real fears of privacy invasion, identity theft, and online terrorism that exist in our world today. Although you may not walk away from the film chilled to the bone, you will definitely clear your browser cache more often. Pervo!