Colin Woodell (bottom right) stars in the tense thriller, “Unfriended: Dark Web” (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures).
The Bad Side of Technology
Some people say do not judge a book by its cover.
In the movie world, one can also say do not judge a movie by its first 10-15 minutes, although that’s usually the amount of time a movie has to capture the attention of its audience.
However, if moviegoers can sit through the dreaded beginning of “Unfriended: Dark Web,” they might be intrigued with the terror and suspense that the film has to offer.
While “Unfriended: Dark Web” is not a good film, the ending is a good enough reason to stomach through the boring beginning of the film.
In the movie “Unfriended: Dark Web,” a group of friends gather on a regular basis to Skype or FaceTime each other via their computers.
While some of his friends have the latest technological advancements, Matias (Colin Woodell) has a slow computer, which makes it almost impossible to remain close with his friends and communicate with his hearing impaired girlfriend.
So when a nicer and newer computer stays in the lost and found at his job for three weeks without anyone claiming it, Matias permanently borrows the computer.
Permanently borrow or steal?
What’s the difference?
For Matias, stealing the computer is one thing.
Getting into that computer without the password is another.
Unfortunately, all of the passwords that Matias can imagine are incorrect like “covfefe” and passwords about his own anatomy.
As stated, in “Unfriended: Dark Web,” Matias takes a computer that has been in the lost and found at his job for weeks.
His old computer had become so slow that he could not complete the project that he wanted to surprise his girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras) with.
Amaya is deaf, but that has not stopped a budding romance from blossoming with Matias.
And although Amaya hooked Matias up with sign language classes to help them communicate better, he blows off those classes and instead likes to video chat with Amaya via Facebook.
The project he has embarked on is creating a sign language video of every possible word that he would use to communicate with Amaya.
When he types a sentence on Facebook, every word that he says has its own specific motion picture of him making that sign with his hands.
While Matias and his friends use computers and technology to keep in touch and see each other virtually, Matias initially does not realize that someone is watching his every move because of the computer he stole.
And by involving his friends and Amaya in his thievery, he inadvertently allows the owner of the computer to watch his friends as well and find their physical location via their Wi-Fi information.
“Unfriended: Dark Web” becomes a race to save each other’s lives after the group of friends realize that they’re in a fight for their survival because of Matias’ theft of that computer.
Can Matias save his friends without tipping off the owner of the computer?
Or will Matias’ decision cause permanent harm to all of his innocent friends?
“Unfriended: Dark Web” starts off so blandly and horribly that moviegoers might walk out of the theaters within the first few minutes of the film.
The opening scenes of “Unfriended: Dark Web” just consists of Matias and Amaya discussing their relationship face to face online.
Then it transitions to Matias talking to his old college friends face to face via the Internet.
The conversations are as follows.
Amaya is fed up with Matias’ lack of effort in learning sign language.
Two of Matias’ female friends are getting married.
The couple’s parents aren’t too thrilled with their lesbian relationship. But the couple wants to get married before one of their mother dies.
She is battling a terminal illness in the hospital and does not have much time left.
Matias and his friends wail against the government.
The friends wail against social media and the Internet.
They basically lament about the world like idealistic young adults tend to do.
The real dilemma for “Unfriended: Dark Web” is whether moviegoers will complain too much about the beginning of the film.
If they do not complain too much, moviegoers might halfway enjoy the climax of the movie.
After the dull opening, the movie picks up intensity and suspense when Matias realizes that he did not just steal any computer.
He stole the computer of some hackers who have the knowledge and expertise to find him and everyone he associates with, thanks to Wi-Fi technology.
The hackers have trapped Matias and his friends into a dangerous game of cat and mouse.
The hackers know where Amaya, Matias and his friends live.
The hackers know where Matias and his friends are at all times.
And the hackers have anticipated Matias’ every move.
In “Unfriended: Dark Web,” Matias has to find a way to protect himself and his friends and keep the dangerous game a secret from his friends because if they know what kind of danger they are in it might make the situation far worse than it already is.
Some of the ways the hackers come at Matias and his friends is evil ingenuity.
“Unfriended: Dark Web” will have moviegoers questioning their need and love for technology.
The film will also make moviegoers wonder if their privacy is really private in an era in which devices like Amazon Echo are listening in on conversations and hackers are videotaping children sleeping in their bedrooms.
And the film will definitely make moviegoers wonder if we give too much of ourselves to the Internet like personal business.
Despite the suspense present in the latter part of the film, “Unfriended: Dark Web” cannot escape the mediocre beginning.
The film, already short in nature, would have been better if it had been a 30-minute television episode instead of a feature-length movie.
The fact that a decent 30 minutes of content got stuffed into the feature film booklet might turn off real movie buffs.
However, if moviegoers can just get past the first 30 minutes of boring computer babble, the final 30 minutes might just be halfway interesting and worth sticking it through to the end of the story.