One of the most terrifying scenes in Unfriended Truly Cuts To The Quick

(Welcome to Creepiest scene ever, a column dedicated to the most vibrant moments in horror with your travel guides, horror experts Matt Donato and Ariel Fisher. In this issue: Matt fights for “Unfriended” as the real fear.com, and Ariel gets angry at Matt for his quarrels.)

At the beginning of the Screenlife horror – a film-making movement invented by producer, author and director Timur Bekmambetov – where computer screens became a new scary frontier, “Unfriended” represented a cinematic refresh. During Bekmambetov’s Bazelevs Productions, Levan Gabriadze tells a story about digital possession caused by cyberbullying that takes place exclusively on a MacBook screen broadcast. Teenagers accuse each other of heinous treason over Skype, while an anonymous avatar writes freely in their chat windows. It’s glitchy, inherently personal, and – in my opinion – it still stands as one of the better Screenlife offerings since its 2014 Fantasia Festival premiere.

There is nothing more frightening than sitting glued to your computer screen with headphones that block out environmental sounds. So easily we are surprised by YouTube content or Instagram clips – would we sense an uninvited guest if they were to invade while watching another viral video? “Unfriended” combines that fear with hidden sins and anonymous internet hackers like a virus that the Vatican cannot contain. Understandably, some viewers may be reluctant to watch someone’s internet hangouts, but desktop recreation and online authenticity are an art form for others. The next development of horror, along with titles like “The Den”, “Open Windows” and more tales of terror from the Chatroulette generation.

The setup

“Unfriended” begins with an uncensored tale of high school student Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman) who killed herself while spectators beg her to stop. We see Blaire Lily’s (Shelley Hennig) MacBook activity as she accesses Spotify playlists and browses Google. Blaire sends messages to his girlfriend Mitch Roussel (Moses Storm) and eventually jumps on a Skype call with other friends as they hand out hot gossip like most high school students with too much time on their hands. The camera only recognizes Blaire’s screen and those she chooses to interact with privately.

It does not take long before the wasted young people notice an unknown user in the room: “billie227.” The assumption is that a jokester is trying to crash their conversation, or that someone present is behind the ghost account. Blaire tries to start the profile, as does computer assistant Ken Smith (Jacob Wysocki), but billie227 remains. There’s an idea to leave the chat and rejoin, and surpass the uninvited guest until Billie227 reveals their true identity – Laura Barns.

The story so far

To begin with, Blaire and the others assume that the hacker is a troll who gets a rise from the tasteless imitation. Delayer Val Rommel (Courtney Halverson) is the first suspect, but she is proven innocent. Tensions rise as trashy full party photos appear on Facebook walls at random, such as Walt’s spilled bong evidence on Jess Felton’s (Renee Olstead) page. Quarrels arise, insults fly, but it becomes clear that none of the participants in the room have control over their accounts on social media. That’s when Billie227’s threats intensify, informing them all that they’ll be killed if anyone dares drop the call. Val calls the police after Billie227 sent a blackmail image and dies a premature death, allegedly on the command of Laura Barns.

The efforts have shown.

Mitch sends Blaire an ominous forum chain about possessions through digital realms. An intoxicated Adam Sewell (Will Peltz) threatens the one who – no matter what – is behind billie227. Ken forwards a program that records Trojan horses for deletion in an attempt to clean everyone’s hard drives and then tries to leave after the futile scrub. That’s when billie227’s video is activated, looking through a ventilation grille pointing to a mountain of storage junk in Ken’s computer area.

The scene

Ken rises from his rolling throne and passes the camera, warning Jess and the rest of its location. Confusion and panic ping-pong between Ken’s friends as he walks to the small opening. Ken removes the lattice cover and stares into Billie227’s lens in a squat position, frozen or paralyzed (like Val before death). After a lengthy beat in which Ken’s friends press their faces against the built-in cameras, the internet fails and everyone loses the connection.

Even without bars, billie227 can send Blaire a message: “I’ve told Ken not to hang up.”

Blaire is the first back on Skype and sees Ken standing from belly to chest in the frame. His circular wheels keep turning to suggest buffer layers. When Mitch and the rest regain the connection, Ken’s window rises to the speaker position as he slams his desk with a scream – his headset flies off as if an invisible force is pushing him down.

Ken’s video buffer in and out of sight and gets blacked out every few seconds, but it’s clear he’s in danger. A cut brings several cries for help as his head hits the table (the “Host” learned a thing or two).

Another blackout occurs, and then we hear the sound of a device hissing before the video shows Ken pushing his hand into a rotating blender blade. Crimson slurry squirts upward as a backyard mixologist forgot to cover over their Bloody Mary mix while Ken howls in pain.

Another cut to black.

There is no help Ken. Blaire and her crew can only see from across portable portals. The screen shows Ken removing the blender jar and any safety precautions. Ken slams the throat of the cyclone leaves as they tear the flesh away under his chin, ending a gruesome execution. Ken’s video stops and shows his avatar from an air hockey match, and then he’s gone.

Tears, disgust and shock are glued to the faces of his friends, who fear what will come next.

The Impact (Ariel’s Take)

This movie is scary enough alone without Matt’s help. “There’s nothing more scary than sitting glued to your computer screen with headphones blocking environmental noises”? How dare you, sir. This is how I write and edit: with noise-canceling headphones on to help me focus!

Of course, this was not a chill process. But it’s this movie that’s rare. It’s creepy as hell.

There’s a lot of debate about which is the best “Unfriended” movie – the first or “Dark Web”. Now, that’s a debate we can get into at a later date. I have always preferred the first one. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I saw them in order after release, who knows. Nevertheless, this simple concept expert was executed and gave us a new offshoot of find-recordings horror to occupy over.

“Unfriended” took the idea of ‚Äč‚Äčisolation as a teenager, filled with its insecurities and social moraines, and armed it with great effect. When Val collapses, the group is concerned but cannot fully contextualize what has happened to her. It’s all so unclear. Ken’s death does not leave much room for ambiguity. Suddenly, the stakes are not only raised, but they are crystal clear: he is dead, and there is nothing any of them can do about it. Any doubt that this was true just flew out the window and it turned them all the bird on its way out.

I’m not sure if this is the scariest scene in the movie for me, but it’s the one that undoubtedly sets the tone. It’s the Casey Becker moment. The one who lets you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are not flying around and all bets are off. No one is safe, anything can happen and they will probably all die. And while that level of security should eliminate any potential suspense, it is instead amplified tenfold because of the nature of this film style.

You can not hide and you can not log off.

Read this next: The 11 scariest scenes in the Halloween franchise

The post One of the scariest scenes in Unfriended Truly Cuts to the Quick first appeared on / Film.

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