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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Online Prank Spirals Out of Control in “UNFRIENDED”

 
Whether it’s a casual status update, a shared family photo or a short video to a group of friends, modern communication has made our on- and offline lives virtually indistinguishable. And while the majority of the hourly stream of digital media we receive and distribute is welcome and exciting content, some of it is deeply, deeply disturbing.

And some of it can be deadly.

Ushering in a new era of horror, Universal Pictures' “Unfriended” follows what happens when a seemingly innocent online prank starts a sequence of events that spirals out of control. A first-person exploration of the terror that can emerge when our connected experiences transform into our deadliest fears, the film unfolds over a teenager’s computer screen as she and her friends are stalked by an unseen figure who seeks vengeance for a shaming video that led a vicious bully to kill herself a year earlier. On the anniversary of her death, the very same friends who thought there would be no consequences to their actions will find out just how deadly wrong they are.

It’s an average school night as Blaire (Shelley Hennig of “Ouija”) and her boyfriend, Mitch (Moses Storm of Hulu’s “The 4 to 9ers: The Day Crew”), start a somewhat intimate video chat. Suddenly, they’re interrupted by their friends, Jess (Renee Olstead of TV’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Adam (Will Peltz of “Men, Women & Children”), Ken (Jacob Wysocki of “Pitch Perfect”) and Val (Courtney Halverson of HBO’s “True Detective”), who are ready to launch into a group chat session. Before long, the group is joined by a user known only as “Billie227.” They think it’s just a glitch and go about their conversation…until Billie begins typing. What comes next devolves into their worst nightmare.

As Blaire begins receiving messages on Facebook and e-mails from someone or something claiming to be Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman of TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles”)—the girl who killed herself exactly one year ago—she frantically tries to figure out who has intruded into their group chat. Meanwhile, Billie’s games force the friends to confront their deepest, darkest secrets and lies. If they find out who posted the shaming video of Laura that led to her death—even if that means these friends suffer in the process—they will appease their tormentor and survive the night.

 
Stories once thought to be hidden are exposed and relationships are tested to the ultimate degree as the group is tormented by an evil spirit who will not let them free…until it gets the ultimate revenge.

The thriller was developed and conceived by visionary filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov (“Wanted,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”). Directed by Leo Gabriadze (“Lucky Trouble”), “Unfriended” is written by Nelson Greaves (TV’s “Sleepy Hollow”) and produced by Bekmambetov and Greaves.

Jason Blum (“Ouija” and “Paranormal Activity,” “The Purge” and “Insidious” series) serves as executive producer of the film for Blumhouse Productions.

The release of “Unfriended” marks the fifth feature-film collaboration between Universal and blockbuster producer Blum’s Blumhouse Productions. From the terrifying films of this partnership—including the speculative thrillers of “The Purge” series, 2014’s breakout “Ouija” and this year’s hit “The Boy Next Door”—Blum continues to push the boundaries of the thriller, suspense and horror genres. Through it all, he manages to deliver to audiences the types of pulse-pounding films they have grown to associate with his banner.

As executive producer of “Unfriended,” Blum continues this mission to cultivate voices of new filmmakers and provide maximum theatrical exposure to their work, while infusing the material with the signature style he’s brought to such new classics as the films of his “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” series.

  Opening across the Philippines on April 29, 2015, “Unfriended” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

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