Recently I got a MoviePass, a service that lets you pay $9.99 a month to see up to a movie per day in theaters, and have been writing reviews for movies I’ve been seeing. It’s been pretty entertaining, so I thought I’d start posting my reviews here – at least until MoviePass goes belly up, which seems to be right around the corner.
Fair warning, I’m a notorious movie critic. I’m one of those assholes that finds minuscule problems with movies and bitches about them. You’ve been warned!
On to the review!
TL;DR The movie has a surprisingly strong premise, and I thought the acting was better than your average horror movie. Sadly, once Act Two starts, the movie turns into a ridiculous thriller with an omnipotent force of bad guys that can do (and know) everything.
Today I checked my MoviePass app and was surprised to see there were movies available near me! As of late the service has been questionable at best, so I figured I should take advantage of this opportunity. Sadly, the service would only allow me to see shitty movies at shitty times. It’s as if MoviePass has been designed for the sole purpose of slowly ruining me. Oh well, I’m nothing if not a masochist. Let’s do this.
I didn’t feel like getting out of the theater after midnight, and MoviePass only offered me one movie that started before 10:00. That’s why I saw Unfriended : Dark Web. It’s a sequel to a movie I haven’t seen, which is never a good way to start things off. I’ve heard of the first one, and knew the conceit about how it’s a movie viewed completely on a laptop. I also knew the first one was supposed to be pretty, pretty, pretty bad. can the sequel live up to that legacy? You’ll have to read on to find out.
THE SET-UP: A young whippersnapper named… Shit. I can’t remember his name, and I’m too lazy to look it up. From this point forward I’ll refer to him as Snots, because there’s a scene where a booger hangs out of his nose. So Snots comes home with a purloined laptop that he stole from the lost and found bin at a local Wifi Bar (or something like that. I’m not very hip to what the kids are doing these days. Are they called Internet Cafes? Whatever.) He starts tooling around with it, and we watch as he tries to talk to his deaf girlfriend, and then joins up with a group of friends on Skype. Snots begins rooting around in his new computer and discovers that there’s a terabyte worth of videos on it – some of which seem to be snuff films. He’s then contacted by a variety of people looking for the laptop’s owner, and soon discovers that there are people willing to pay big bucks to watch people get murdered! Furthermore, there’s a fresh auction going on for a newly kidnapped girl. Snots and his friends get embroiled in this mess as the killers start showing up at their houses! ERMAGHAD! Through a wild set of circumstances, Snots tries to get the computer back to the owner, save his girlfriend, and the kidnapped girl, but it all goes to shit for him as he and his friends are killed off one by one, but not before discovering it’s all been a ruse, and the killers were planning on pinning their crimes on Snots and his friends!
Did that synopsis sound bonkers? Good. Because so’s the movie.
THE GOOD: I actually thought the first act of the movie was rather excellent. You have to get used to the conceit of the movie – that the screen you’re looking at is simply the screen of Snot’s new computer. You’re watching a Macbook screen the whole time. I’m reminded of how we all had to get used to the found footage movies that exploded following the release of Blair Witch, except I found it far easier to get used to the computer screen idea.
The way the movie feeds you information at the beginning is very well done. There’s no scrawl here to explain how Snots got himself into this predicament. We learn as we go – the way good movies are supposed to work. Bravo, movie! Well done. We realize what’s going on as Snots navigates his newly stolen computer, installs a program on it, and then starts to explore the original owner’s social media. Everything in Act One progresses quite well. I found myself sitting a little straighter as I began asking myself, “Could this movie I was so certain would suck end up being the best movie I’ve seen so far with my MoviePass?” But then Act Two starts, and everything… falls… apart.
THE BAD: I knew it was falling apart the minute the ‘killer’ shows up at Snot’s girlfriend’s place. The bad guy is equipped with some sort of electro-jamming tech that shields people from seeing his face. Later it seems as if it was all because of his hoodie, but the magic of this is a bridge too far to accept. It works exactly when it needs to for cinematic effect, and we as the audience can’t help but question the logic of it. Then we see that the bad guy can type out text in messages to Snot that he can then erase. It all starts to seem incredibly convenient. This is where the OMNIPOTENT ANTAGONIST comes crashing through the movie screen.
I despise movies where the bad guy seems to know everything, can do anything, and appears to be utterly flawless. This movie falls hard into that trap. Later we’ll discover that it’s not just the one bad guy, but an entire legion of them, each tied to this hacker/snuff-loving/murderer/kidnapper cabal. But that still doesn’t explain how they’re achieving so much in such little time.
By the end of the movie, we learn that the entire thing was a setup. The Omnipotents planted the computer at that Cafe Cyber Internet WiFi Coffee Zone Lost and Found! It’s been a set up from the very beginning so that the bad guys could frame Snots!
But wait. Hold on a second. How… the fuck? We watched as Snots came home with the computer and tried to break into it. He just got home from deciding to take it. That means that the Omnipotents designed everything that happens within a one and a half hour time frame. There’s no time gap there. We watch everything unfold within the running time of the movie. When you sit back and try to wrap your head around the things the Omnipotents are able to do within an hour and a half, the movie falls completely apart.
There’s no way the Omnipotents could’ve known it’d be Snots who took the computer from the MillenialNerdZoneCafe. So they couldn’t have been working on this plan until he gets the computer. And there’s no way they could find out who his friends were until he signed onto the Skype call. Of all the things the Omnipotents end up accomplishing, there’s nothing that’s funnier to me than how some of them managed to dig a six foot grave in a public park, and deliver a wooden casket there.
And that brings me back to something I actually liked about the movie. Apparently there are two different endings to this movie. I think that’s pretty cool, and I haven’t heard about another movie doing that since Clue! There’s the ending I saw, where Snots ends up buried in a box six feet under the spot where he and his deaf girlfriend first kissed, all while she stands above unable to understand his pleas on the phone that he’s beneath her because he never learned to sign – except he did. We watched him communicate with her via sign language earlier. He wasn’t good at it, but he could spell things out letter by letter.
In the other ending, everyone dies. Instead of being buried, Snots gets hit by a van, and his girlfriend ends up imprisoned.
But a fancy bow on a tidal wave of shit doesn’t clean the water. You can go ahead and trademark that.
Unfriended : Dark Web’s cardinal sin is the Omnipotent Antagonist. By the end, you’ll feel cheated, and that’s never a good way to walk out of a movie.