Unfriended: Dark Web (3 stars)

Unfriended: Dark Web

Stephen Susco's tense but unremarkable horror sequel roots itself in the real world

The supernatural killer from 2014 teen cyber horror Unfriended is replaced with a threat grounded in reality and inspired by online black market the Silk Road in this tense sequel written and directed by Stephen Susco (who wrote the US remake of The Grudge). Again taking place almost entirely from the point of view of one computer screen, Dark Web hovers its cursor directly over the manipulation of people, identity and data in the internet age.

From the outset, the film makes direct references to the real world. At first the viewer is shown random passwords being entered onto a laptop, making it clear this is not the rightful owner – one of the guesses is Trump's infamous 'covfefe'. There's also mention of Cambridge Analytica and the distortion of facts, tapping into timely themes.

Then we meet Matias (Colin Woodell) who seems unconcerned that he has logged into someone else's computer and goes about checking his Facebook, Skype and Spotify accounts. He chats with his deaf girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras) before beginning an online game of Cards Against Humanity with his old college buddies. Soon a morality tale kicks in, as the owner of the laptop initiates a cruel and deadly game against Matias and his friends.

Unfriended: Dark Web sits alongside web-based horror, such as Nacho Vigalondo's Open Windows, but doesn't set itself apart with anything truly surprising, like we saw in the Black Mirror episode 'Shut Up and Dance'. Debut helmer Susco ramps up a panicky fervour in the first half, with bleak images of snuff films, creepy pixelated villains and a nervy performance from Woodell. Yet, as the film comes to a close, with each person offed as expected, the revelations are somewhat lacking – other than it's impossible to control what people can engineer and twist with the information you share online.

General release from Fri 10 Aug.

Unfriended: Dark Web

  • 3 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 1h 32min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Stephen Susco
  • Cast: Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Colin Woodell
  • UK release: 10 August 2018

Matias (Woodell) logs into a computer that doesn’t belong to him, only for its own to initiate a cruel and deadly game against him and his friends. Timely and tense but not very original cyber horror, with a nervy performance from Woodell.