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.