Matias (Colin Woodell) has a new-to-him computer that’s so much faster than his old one. He uses it to work on an app he’s developing to be able to communicate better with his deaf girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), and to have a virtual game night with his friends Lexx (Savira Windyani), Damon (Andrew Lees), AJ (Conner Del Rio) and newly engaged couple Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and Nari (Betty Gabriel).
While working, playing, and trying to repair the growing rift in his relationship, Matias explores the contents of this new computer and discovers disturbing hidden files on the hard drive… files of girls the previous owner has killed for smut pay in the past! And then the previous owner, Charon IV (Douglas Tait) starts contacting him because he can see everything Matias is doing on the computer. He begins threatening Matias if he doesn’t return the computer… but the threats become all the more real when Charon IV shows up at Amaya’s house and attacks her roommate.
Matias and his friends look into the computer to find answers to stop Charon IV, but the evil organization of hackers he belongs to figures it out and starts killing them off one by one, having a wicked little game night of their own. All of this is seen from the POV of the computer screen and the various windows Matias opens in the process.
Unfriended: Dark Web is the sequel to 2014’s Unfriended, but in title and theme only rather than a direct sequel (since the first film dealt with ghosts and cyberbullying). It is, however, a much stronger film than the original. A big kudos goes out to writer/director Stephen Susco (The Grudge, The Grudge 2, Red) who busted out the first draft of this script in only 2 weeks, and managed to get the film shot in less time than they were scheduled for. He was given a release date to chase, and he not only got the job done but he made a damn thrilling film!
Another shout out needs to be said for cinematographer Kevin Stewart (who’s only shot shorts before this) and editor Andrew Wesman (Unfriended, The Neighbour, The Super). Their combined efforts made a fluid real-time story on a computer screen, expertly forcing the audience to look where they’re meant to without ever moving the camera! An impressive and innovative feat.
The acting was surprisingly very good despite the fact I didn’t recognize any of the actors other than Betty Gabriel who’s now appeared in numerous Blumhouse films. The cast does a great job of keeping the intensity up as well as bringing the occasional chuckle to break up said tension when needed.
A surprising amount of the film has little to no dialogue as much of the information we learn is actually from watching the lead actor click around on the computer reading files, watching videos, and getting Facebook messages. The movie weaves back and forth between it’s audio-driven info and the visuals. Although, it’s the visuals I had a problem with. In the film, the killer(s) mask their identity by somehow (we’re never shown how) interfering with the various computers and camera’s they’re seen on. The effect is a strange glitchy look that seems to skip around through time slightly and make the bad guys seem to appear and vanish from mid-air.
I’m sure at some point in the process this seemed like a cool idea to someone… but it just came off as distracting, odd, and a little annoying. It was like they were trying to make it still seem paranormal like the first movie, despite being totally human antagonists. This is, however, my only real gripe with the film.
Overall, Unfriended: Dark Web is an intense and innovative thrill ride that shines a light on the dangers of the internet and getting in over your head. It’s not an award contender or a “must see” or anything like that, but it’s still a fun time and very unlike most of what you’ll see in theaters.