‘It is game night…’
A few years ago I wrote a review of the first Unfriended film in which I opined that ‘cyber horror’ would be the name of the next horror craze – that being, films that take place entirely through a computer screen. I also theorised that while Unfriended isn’t the film to do it, eventually a film will come along that sparks this genre into life. All of that was wrong it turns out. In the six years since Unfriended came out, there have been a couple of like minded horror flicks, but nothing worthy of starting a movement. This is surprising because as Black Mirror has shown, there is an appetite out there for horror based around technology. Unfriended: Dark Web still isn’t the film to create a new genre, but it’s definitely an improvement on what came before it…
When Matias (Colin Woodell) uses his new computer to connect to a weekly quiz night via Skype, he doesn’t realise that the night will conclude with murder, conspiracy and a SWAT team breaking down someone’s door. During the seemingly endless Zoom quizzes I took part in during lockdown, I would have loved a SWAT team to break down my door and grant me the sweet release of death, but alas, that never happened.
One area in which the original Unfriended suffered was the acting, mainly because the inexperienced cast were so young. Dark Web is a vast improvement in that area and while Connor Del Rio is over the top and annoying as the ‘wacky’ friend AJ, everyone else does a pretty good job in selling this thing. The concept is improved also, drawing on existing paranoia about the dark web and online surveillance to produce a plot that is chilling, if a little familiar.
Unfriended: Dark Web combines elements of high drama and horror to produce something that is both tense and frightening, and at just over 90 minutes it never outstays its welcome. Nor does it stray too far from reality. While there are some far fetched moments here and there, most of this is worryingly plausible.
In an age where the head of the FBI sticks blu tack over his webcam, this film has never been more relevant. It deserved a bigger audience.