A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unfriended: Dark Web is the sequel to 2015's Unfriended. It uses the same everything-happens-via-a-computer execution but has a much darker, more brutal story. Viewers will encounter jump scares and brief but very disturbing images of young women in peril, held captive, and tortured: One is shown to have a chunk of metal wedged into a hole that's been drilled in her skull. There's also a lot of death overall: Characters are shot, hanged, pushed in front of trains, and hit by cars. Language includes a few uses of "f--k" and "motherf----r," as well as "a--hole," "ass," and more. There's a brief webcam image of a couple having sex (not graphic), and some sex talk is heard. Another brief webcam image shows teens possibly drinking at a party. Many real-life computer apps, websites, and brands are used, including Google, Facebook, Spotify, Wikipedia, Apple computers, and Bitcoin.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB, Matias (Colin Woodell) is working on his American Sign Language app on a new computer, hoping to impress his deaf girlfriend, Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras). He and Amaya argue over Skype, and then it's time for game night with Matias' friends: A.J. (Connor Del Rio), Damon (Andrew Lees), Lexx (Savira Windyani), and Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and Nari (Betty Gabriel), who've just gotten engaged. Then Matias' computer -- which he picked out of the lost and found at a café -- starts acting oddly, and he discovers a hidden file full of strange, disturbing videos of girls in jeopardy. He pokes around further and finds info about huge transfers of money. Before long, a sinister figure called Charon is after him and his friends. Can the danger move off their screens and into their homes?
Is it any good?
This sequel effectively uses the same design and execution as its predecessor, but the story here is less spooky and more brutally disturbing, closer to real-world terrors than to the supernatural. Horror screenwriter Stephen Susco (The Grudge, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Beyond the Reach) makes his directing debut here, taking over from the creators of the original Unfriended but adequately copying their intriguing idea. The entirety of Unfriended: Dark Web seems to take place in one shot, in real time, on a single computer screen, with the shifting windows, videos, chats, texts, and timers providing a sense of cutting, building a suspenseful rhythm.
Sound is also used cleverly, mixing Spotify playlists, keyboards clacking and mouses clicking, warning bings, and other familiar computer noises -- but, again, orchestrated for suspense. The trouble comes with the darker material. The first film was a simple ghost story with a revenge plot, an old story maximized for the digital age, with a message against bullying. This one is also a modern story, but one with horrifying repercussions. The images of women held prisoner and tortured and/or murdered are vicious and hard to take. The movie scrapes by because the main characters are as shocked and sickened by these images as we are, but it still gets very close to crossing a line and may indeed cross it from time to time. All of that said, it's well-made -- and scary in a way that most horror movies are not.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Unfriended: Dark Web's violence. How far does it go? Does the brevity of the disturbing images make them any less upsetting?
How accurately does the movie reflect people's real-life media habits? Does it suggest any changes?
Does the movie seem to be glorifying the media brands that are shown and used? Did it make you want to start using any of them?
How is this sequel similar to or different from the original?
What's the appeal of horror movies?
- In theaters: July 20, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: October 16, 2018
- Cast: Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel
- Director: Stephen Susco
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some disturbing violence, language and sexual references
- Last updated: March 20, 2020
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