Saturday, July 21, 2018

UNFRIENDED: The Dark Web and Ruin Me


Matias (Collin Woodell, "Unsane") opens up his new laptop and immediately sets to work on his new app to translate his words into sign language for his deaf girlfriend, Amaya. It isn't long before we find out that our lead is coming in from the dark ages of a slower computer and that this night also coincides with his on-line "game" with friends over Skype. But his new computer has some secrets, including a previous owner who wants his machine back in a big way.

Somewhat of an improvement over the previous entry in the growing franchise, the film continues with the conceit of viewing the entire story through the computer monitor. That, however, is where any and all similarity to the first film ends. These events aren't supernatural. Heavily inspired by creepy pastas over the years, including folklore surrounding the mythical "Dark Web" (Where nothing is taboo.). Matias and his friends find themselves victims of a sinister group that trades in snuff films.

Okay, the truth is that I wasn't pulled in to this film by the scares or machinations of the sinister "Charons"... the film felt forced at times and there's just not enough to follow when everyone is staring into the camera with wide eyes, hands to mouth, and shock on their features. The gimmick of the film is also it's major limitation as we are forced to watch all the action from security cameras, webcams, and camera phones. And there just isn't a lot of "there" there.

4 out of 10, not a recommend. A friend I went with to the film disagrees, however... so it may not have appealed to me.

Alexandria (Marcianne Dwyer) is such a great girlfriend. She agrees to tag along with her boyfriend on a camping trip designed as part “Haunted” attraction and part “escape room”. The Slasher Sleepout will feature clues to a puzzle, actors playing various roles, and other contestants hoping to win whatever contest is in play. But things may not be all the fun and games we first believe, and Alexandria must play the game for very real stakes if she hopes to make it out alive.

Banking on an interesting premise, Ruin Me becomes surreal as we are constantly questioning whether the game is about to turn real or not. The characters are the sort of archetypes you would expect to find, from the goth princess “slut”, her “edgy” boyfriend, the film nerd, and … well, that random guy with a beard. Alexandria and her boyfriend, Nathan (Matt Dellapina), are the perfect pair of regular schmucks along for the ride. And there’s plenty to enjoy about the premise and set up of the film. There’s interesting dialogue, enjoyable interactions, and some quirky moments that makes the viewer believe they might be in for a nice comedy-horror treat.

Then the film comes to a screeching halt at the apex of the action we’ve been enjoying so far, and we’re taken out of the moment and thrown into a surreal twist. It’s a great set-piece and it reminds me of “Saw” in all the best ways, but it’s such a tonal shift that the viewer is no longer able to trust the film. Now we know that there’s a big twist coming and we’re left waiting for the inevitable drop. It’s not a mystery- not really. We know where the film is heading and we’re just waiting for the explanation. We want to know why, but the wondering doesn’t allow us to really enjoy the rest of the film.

Which is a shame.

6.5 out of 10- mild recommend.

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