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Unfriended: Dark Web (2018)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/16/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/19/2018
The internet is a fantastic invention which has changed the world as we know it. (Without the internet, this website wouldn't exist. So, yeah, it's a great thing.) However, like most things, the internet has a downside. Along with things like cyberbullying and a certain lack of privacy, the world wide web has dark corners in which crime and illicit things take place. Rumors and urban legends abound concerning twisted things that individuals connect and carry out in cyberspace. A distinct belief in this sort of behavior is the basis for the cyber-thriller Unfriended: Dark Web.
Unfriended: Dark Web is a sequel in name only to 2014's Unfriended, as it features an entirely new story and characters.
Matias (Colin Woodell) is excited about his new second-hand laptop, as he'll now have a better connection when having an online chat with his girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras). As Amaya is hearing-impaired, he's also excited to finally have a solid platform to launch a program he's created which can mimic sign-language. While attempting to engage in this conversation, Matias is also engaged in his regularly scheduled online game night with his friends Nari (Betty Gabriel), Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse), Damon (Andrew Lees), AJ (Connor Del Rio), and Lexx (Savira Windyani). As he communicating with his friends, and trying to figure out why Amaya is cross with him, Matias explores his new computer. Along with some insistent Facebook messages, Matias finds some disturbing videos on the computer. It seems that the machine had previously belonged to some bad people and Matias has inadvertently gotten his friends involved in a deadly game.
First of all, let's examine the technical aspects of Unfriended: Dark Web. The entire film takes place on the screen of Matias' computer. Yes, this gimmick has been done before, but when viewed objectively, one must appreciate the amount of work involved in coordinating everything happening on-screen. Writer/Director Stephen Susco not only had to direct the actors in the various video windows, but place and manipulate all of the various apps which Matias is running. One must also appreciate the work which went into securing the rights to all of the real-world programs, such as Facebook and Skype. The movie could have easily used fake versions of these apps, but having the real, familiar ones gives the movie a certain sense of reality.
As for the story itself, Susco has created a mystery-thriller which bites off more than it can chew. While the visual approach of the film described above is intriguing, in practice it comes off as an ADD-esque nightmare, as there are windows constantly opening and closing, pulling the viewer's eye from one side of the screen to the other. The story starts out as somewhat simplistic and then dives further and further into dark net lore, as Matias and his friends become pawns in a sadistic plot. The movie makes the mistake of overemphasizing the "dark" in its title, as things get pretty depressing in the third act. This is further complicated by the fact that the characters aren't very likable. Ostensibly, Matias is meant to be the link to audience, but his poor decisions and questionable morals make it difficult to get behind him.
In a world of copycat thrillers, Unfriended: Dark Web does offer a somewhat unique experience. However, that experience is diminished by the fact that watching the movie has the similar effect of watching someone else play a video game. Also, even within the compact story, there are fails in logic, especially the scene in which a character is asked to choose between two loved ones, when the choice is obvious to the viewer. For all of its pitfalls, Unfriended: Dark Web is most successful in forcing us to think about which parts of the dark conspiracy presented here may be true. While this isn't a wholly successful horror film, it does present some scary ideas.
Unfriended: Dark Web maxes out your bandwidth on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studio Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source materials. Keep in mind that the film's unique view gives us some intentional defects to the videos seen on Matias' screen. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the images on the screen never bleed into one another. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. There is a clever use of stereo and surround effects here, most notably when several people talking at once. These sounds come from the center and stereo channels, but the various speakers are still distinct. Although it doesn't make sense in a narrative fashion, there is some notable surround sound here as well.
The lone extra on the Unfriended: Dark Web Blu-ray Disc is "Alternate Endings: Who Deserves to Live?". This offers three finales which are slightly different from the one presented in the main film, as each shows a different group of survivors. They should have stuck with the third one, as it's actually creepy.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long