- Film & TV
- 17 Aug 18
The stand-alone sequel is an ambitious tech-horror, but proves decidedly uneven.
One would be forgiven for thinking that a film that makes reference to Cambridge Analytica, the Flint water crisis and “covfefe” would be a critical examination of technology, control and power, not a silly teen horror flick. But like The Purge, Unfriended: Dark Web combines the two to tackle the real social fears and anxieties facing millennials. These range from corrupt governments and racism to personal information being gathered online and used by unsavoury corporations and characters – legally or not.
Mathias (Colin Woodell) has done a bad thing. An aspiring software engineer, he has stolen a fancy laptop from a café lost and found. It’s this laptop’s screen that becomes the film’s entire focus, as group video calls, screen-sharing, Facebook chat boxes and Spotify playlists create a surprisingly dynamic world. Kleptomaniac tendencies aside, Mathias is a decent guy, and is chatting with friends over Skype when he starts discovering the disturbing videos, chatrooms and torture-for-hire schemes hidden on the laptop’s hardrive. But when the owner tracks Mathias down and threatens him and his friends, they must all stay online and watch as their lives are slowly destroyed.
While the 2014 prequel to this (standalone) film was based around cyber bullying, Dark Web tackles terrifying new forms of online horrors, including snuff films, doxxing and SWATting. Dark Web’s core ideas are often better than their development, as stupid decisions and implausible conveniences begin to stack up; particularly how the villains inexplicably pixelate themselves whenever they appear onscreen, and their ludicrous omnipresence both on and offline.