New cinema release Unfriended feels as natural as breathing for those raised by the glow of digital screens.
Depicted entirely on a teenage girl’s computer desktop, it is a 90-minute continuous scene of chilling horror recorded inside Skype windows, Facebook messages and Youtube videos, with a mouse cursor always hovering comfortingly nearby.
It’s greatest thrills are delivered not with blood and violence (although it has plenty of both), but by being one of the first movies to ever show us our digital selves so realistically.
“If I see your screen, I see your soul,” producer Timur Bekmambetov told Chattanooga Now.
“It’s like a stream of consciousness, and it’s so captivating.”
The audience cannot hear main character Blaire’s thoughts, but it sees her type, delete and re-type messages; play and pause music in iTunes; and highlight sentences in emails, offering an insight entirely unmatched in the film industry.
This groundbreaking film is the first of what could be man ‘screenmovies’, as Bekmambetov likes to call them.
Originally screened in 2014 as Cybernatural, an audience in Canada responded so strongly to its technological fright that Universal Pictures bought the rights.
Web cameras glitch, computer screens pop up and down, and slashed up teenage bodies log out in this horror-thriller from director Levan Gabriadze and screenwriter Nelson Greaves, which must be the most unique film of the year.
It follows the online interactions of five teenagers in real time as they are stalked by a vengeful hacker.
A year after Laura Barnes killed herself to escape a drunken online video, her web profiles come back to haunt her former ‘frenemies’.
Just as we find it so hard to look away from our own screens, not once does the camera zoom in or cut to a different shot, save for the film’s dying seconds.
In one telling scene, Blaire (Heather Sossaman) types one thing to her boyfriend Mitch (Moses Storm) via Facebook Messenger while saying something entirely different to her friends via web cam.
In another, the chatter of pot-smoking nerd Ken (Jacob Wysocki), sporty brooding type Adam (Will Peltz), vain blonde Jess (Renee Olstead) and group outsider Val (Courtney Halverson) fades to silence as Blaire tunes them out while typing frantically for help.
While the plot may sound far-fetched, it serves as a cautionary tale about every modern parent’s nightmare — online bullying — while even touching on cyber sex and what happens to the web profiles of the deceased.
We are all “under the spotlight” of the internet, director Levan Gabriadze told Chattanooga Now.
“Every mistake you make is documented and stays there. It really is a tough space to be, because the Internet doesn’t forget.”
The internet pumps in our blood, but has never been so perfectly encapsulated on the silver screen.
There is no escape from this digital world, for the teens or for us.