What I'm Watching: Unfriended: Dark Web

  • Unfriended: Dark Web: Written and first-time-directed by Stephen Susco, the writer of the American Grudge remakes (which utterly missed the point: The Japanese films were cursed hauntings of familiar, safe places; the American ones set in Japan are hauntings of a person who's already alienated and scared, not to mention that Sarah Michelle Gellar's range doesn't extend this much beyond stabby cheerleader). And it's a Blumhouse film, which is to quality cinema what pickled pigs feet are to cuisine. BUT I DIGRESS.

Do you want to watch 90 minutes of a doofus with terrible hair using Facebook® and Skype® on a stolen MacBook? Because that's what this is. It never takes the camera out of the screen, which is an interesting choice; everyone has a giant selfie-cam in Skype, right? I will say, this may be the only movie I've ever seen use Terminal on a Mac. Also the "Papaya" app for translating speech to text to personally-recorded American Sign Language videos (because the doofus's girlfriend is deaf, and he's too much of an asshole programmer to practice ASL without writing code for it) is unique. Awful, but unique.

But then it goes into discovering the previous owner made torture porn/snuff films for an obscene amount of bitcoin on a darkweb site named "The River", populated by "Charon 68" ("they never made it to 69"), a figure who projects static into all cameras appears, and things get more and more desperate.

A film of just finding the snuff films and chasing down the perpetrator online would be interesting. But the squeamish characters stop the doofus from playing any of the videos for more than a few seconds, eliminating the only actual horror in this "horror" movie.

Then it goes from a slightly fantastical computer horror show, to a secret society of utterly impossible killers and l33t h4xx0rz, and cops that show up in 2 minutes. The last half ruins a perfectly good premise.

I watched the "Extended Edition", which has a bad ending for everyone, but given the super-powered secret society, it's the only consistent ending. There's also an incredibly stupid "Charons vote and think he's enough of a bastard to live" happy ending on the regular edition.

End credits are live-edited into what looks like SSL source code; ironically if anyone had been using SSL, drive encryption, and secured their computers with more than 1-letter passwords this entire script would be impossible. I assure you I keep my snuff flicks (no.) and darkweb bitcoin lockers (also no.) in an encrypted volume with a long password written nowhere else.

This is a sequel/remake of Unfriended, which I have not seen but is apparently an actual ghost haunting Facebook®, which might be more plausible than what I just watched.

★★☆☆☆ — not bad enough to be good, but stupid enough to be funny at times.