I disagreed with many critics on 2014’s “Unfriended,” due to it’s engrossing horror tale where every character was awful or selfish in their own right, while also having unique visuals with everything taking place on one computer screen. It was a suspenseful horror film that played on the fears and anxieties of a generation engrossed in social media. So when the sequel, “Unfriended: Dark Web” was getting similar reviews to its predecessor, I know that I had to check this out for myself and see if this film is as underrated or if really isn’t worth mentioning.
“Dark Web” is unrelated to the last film, but still follows a group of young adults having a Skype conversation one evening, when one of them, Matias (Colin Woodell) shows off his new laptop he got off Craigslist. But it very quickly becomes clear that the laptop’s former owner used this for shady, disgusting business, though it gets even weirder when the former owner orders Matias to give him back his laptop or else people will start dying, in particular Matias’ girlfriend Amaya. As Matias and his friends struggle to figure out what to do, they learn there’s information on a currently missing girl on the laptop, leaving everyone with a difficult choice to make.
“Unfriended: Dark Web” makes better use of its single computer screen point of view than the previous film, as it shifts between the many apps, texture changes and webcams smoothly and effectively. Whereas the last film only used Facebook and Skype, this film takes advantage of so many more apps that it feels more in-tune with how tech-savvy adults would act and respond.
The characters also act more realistically here, actively trying to stop what’s happening and regain control over a chaotic situation. Each character also has a distinct personality and act as far more than just shocking death fodder. From the early interactions between Matias and his small group of friends, it’s easy to tell how they’ve remained close through their subtle acting alone.
Beyond this, “Dark Web” is a vastly different film from “Unfriended.” Where the first film was about essentially a ghost trapped in the internet, “Dark Web” is about how a group of friends unwittingly discovered a ruthless secret part of the internet that loves to sadistically play with people like they’re nothing but pawns in their game. While the first film was sympathetic towards the ghost since all of the characters wronged her, the characters in this film have done nothing wrong. Rather, they are the sympathetic ones since they’re trapped in a game they have no hope of understanding.
This makes “Dark Web” more of a thriller than a horror film, which I feel doesn’t work as well with the single screen point of view. It feels limited, especially since our protagonist keeps making the same dumb mistakes by taunting a faceless enemy. Yet the film feels confused, unsure if it wants to go into more detail about the titular dark web or focus on the horrifying and shocking images, causing the filmmakers to do neither of those very well.
Overall, I’m a bit disappointed by “Unfriended: Dark Web.” While it used the single computer screen format effectively, the filmmakers tried to go for a bigger story without changing its limited point of view. “Dark Web” wants to impress with its sinister, all-encompassing evil presence, but it ultimately feels small and unfocused. If you liked the first film or enjoy low-budget horror films, this will have a few scenes that’ll creep you out. Just don’t expect this to be better than “Unfriended.”
Final Grade: C