Unfriended: Dark Web
|Unfriended: Dark Web|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Susco|
|Written by||Stephen Susco|
|Edited by||Andrew Wesman|
|Box office||$16.4 million|
Unfriended: Dark Web is a 2018 American horror film written and directed by Stephen Susco in his directorial debut. Shot as a computer screen film, it stars Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Connor Del Rio, Andrew Lees, Stephanie Nogueras, and Savira Windyani. The film is a sequel to the 2014 film Unfriended, and follows a group of friends who find a laptop that has access to the dark web, only to realize they are being watched by the original owners.
The film had its world premiere at the South by Southwest festival on March 9, 2018, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 20, 2018, by Universal Pictures' OTL Releasing and Blumhouse Productions' BH Tilt. The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $16 million worldwide, against a production budget of $1 million.
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Matias O'Brien is working on a new laptop he has acquired, originally belonging to someone named Norah C. IV. He begins working on Papaya, an app he is making for his deaf girlfriend Amaya: The app listens to the user's voice and posts their words on the screen. However, Amaya is upset because the app only makes it convenient for her to understand him, but not for him to understand her.
Matias keeps getting messages for Norah from someone named Erica. He gets on a Skype video call with his friends — tech wiz Damon, conspiracy theorist and YouTube-personality AJ, DJ Lexx, and lesbian couple Serena and Nari — and becomes frustrated with the computer constantly freezing up. Serena and Nari reveal that they just got engaged. Serena wishes she had told her mom sooner because her mom is on life support due to brain cancer.
Matias discovers that Erica is actually Norah. As he had taken the laptop from a lost and found bin at a cyber café, he prepares to return it, after Norah demands for him to give her back her laptop. He sees a message for Norah about payment they received for a video. Curious, he converses with this mystery person. The user, Charon68, talks to Matias through a message board called "The River." Matias' friends watch his actions through a shared screen, and AJ recognizes this as the dark web. The user mentions a video, as well as trephination. Matias looks up trephination, and they all learn it means drilling a hole in a person's skull. Feeling disturbed, he stops talking to Charon68.
Damon realizes that "Norah C." is "Charon" spelled backward. Matias finds hidden videos, most of which are of girls being tortured. Matias looks up the street address in the filename of one of the videos and sees that a girl went missing from there: It is Erica Dunne, the person whose account Norah C was using. Matias receives a video call from Amaya. However, she is in the shower. Instead, he sees a hooded figure that knocks her roommate Kelly unconscious; the figure turns out to be Norah C., who demands the laptop back or he will kill Amaya.
Matias notices Nari trying to call the police. He stalls and says it was all a game he is making since it is game night. His friends are relieved but upset. Matias tries to convince Amaya to come over. She is still upset, thinking that he is not making an effort to learn American Sign Language for her. Matias admits that he got scared when the instructor said how difficult dating a deaf person could be, but he truly wants it to work for them. Amaya decides to meet with Matias, with Norah C. following her.
To ensure Norah C. complies, Matias transfers all the crypto-currency from Norah C.'s account into his own. Norah C. angrily chides Matias for this, but Matias says he will get the money and laptop back on the promise that Amaya is safe and Erica is returned. He then receives messages from a group known as "The Circle," consisting of hackers all using variations of Charon as their handles. They reveal that they are aware that Matias took the money, and a Charon reveals his face.
Multiple accounts with the name Charon join the video chat. They post a video of someone pushing Lexx off her building's roof, where she was taking a call. The Circle reveals they have edited videos of AJ to make it sound like he will shoot up a shopping mall and played it for a 911 operator. The cops enter his house, and The Circle hack into his computer to play a sound effect of a shotgun being loaded. This results in the cops believing he is armed and they shoot him. The Circle then shows camera footage of Nari at the subway and Serena's mother on life support. They give Serena a limited amount of time to choose between the two, but she can't bring herself to do so. When the countdown ends, The Circle pulls her mom off life support, pushes Nari in front of a train and kills Serena in her house.
Matias leaves to get Amaya on his bike, leaving the laptop open so Damon can copy its files. A Charon takes control of the laptop and Damon talks to The Circle, saying he has been recording everything for the police to find. Another Charon brings Erica into Matias' closet. Damon realizes that The Circle had planned for Matias to find the bait laptop so it looks like he and his friends committed the crimes and The Circle can further avoid detection from the law. Moments later, a Charon hangs Damon by his closet door. Another Charon writes a fake confession and suicide note, implying everyone killed themselves out of guilt.
Matias gets a call from Amaya asking where he is. He realizes The Circle had hacked his messages to make Amaya go somewhere else. He watches the camera feed helplessly as Amaya gets attacked by a Charon. Broken, he asks The Circle why they did all of this, and they repeat a clip of him earlier saying "After all, it is game night," revealing that this is simply entertainment for them.
The Circle members launch a poll to decide Matias' fate; as they vote, he laughs, no longer caring about his own safety. Erica wakes up in Matias' apartment and goes to the computer, begging for help, but the video cuts off as she reveals a hole in her skull and screams. In the street, the poll reaches up to 23257 tallied votes, with less than a quarter voting for him to remain alive, Matias is run over by a Charon in a large van. Their job done and their crimes pinned on Matias and his friends, the members of The Circle appear in front of the cameras and express their joy of completion, as it is revealed that the audience's point of view was actually from a Charon's computer.
Alternate ending (Buried Alive)
In the second ending, Matias texts Amaya to meet him in the spot where they shared a kiss. He arrives at the site and finds a hole in the ground with an open casket, before a Charon knocks him out.
Amaya arrives and calls Matias and his ringing phone wakes him up. He realizes that he has been buried alive and tries to text Amaya about his predicament but the Circle changes all of his messages. When he attempts to video chat, The Circle pixelates his mouth so Amaya cannot read his lips. Matias' fate is left unknown as the film ends before Amaya even realizes the situation.
DVD ending (They_Earned_It.m4v)
In the DVD ending, Matias texts Amaya to meet him in the spot where they shared a kiss. She arrives and several Charons film her whilst hiding, Matias arrives on his bike and the Charons come out of hiding, they restrain the duo and The Circle launches a poll to decide their fate. A majority of the members vote no, but a group message is posted by Charon IX titled “They_Earned_It.m4v” which is a recording of Matias when he tries to bargain for Erica from Charon IV with his money, which earns the respect from the other majority of The Circle who vote yes. They release the two and they go over to each other and embrace. Meanwhile, Erica wakes up in Matias' apartment and goes to the computer, begging for help and screams.
Alternate DVD ending (Suicide)
In the second ending of the DVD, Matias locates the warehouse where the Charons took Amaya. She is nowhere to be found, and all hope for him seems to be lost. He finds a revolver on the floor and begins to seemingly contemplate suicide. A Charon opens up a poll for The Circle to debate whether Matias will kill himself; the film ends before he makes the decision.
- Colin Woodell as Matias O'Brien
- Betty Gabriel as Nari Jemisin
- Rebecca Rittenhouse as Serena Lange
- Andrew Lees as Damon Horton
- Connor Del Rio as AJ Jeffcock
- Stephanie Nogueras as Amaya DeSoto
- Savira Windyani as Lexx Putri
- Alexa Mansour as Erica Dunne
- Chelsea Alden as Kelly
- Bryan Adrian as Jack
- Douglas Tait as Charon IV
- Rob Welsh as Charon V
- Kiara Beltran as Charon VI
In April 2015, the month of Unfriended's release, it was announced that Universal Pictures had greenlit a sequel, tentatively titled Unfriended 2, with Nelson Greaves writing and Jason Blum and Timur Bekmambetov producing, and a release date then set for the spring of 2016.
On October 3, 2017, it was reported that The Grudge and Texas Chainsaw 3D writer Stephen Susco had taken over the project as writer and director. Susco shot the film in secret over one week in late 2016, under the working title Unfriended: Game Night.
Unfriended: Dark Web was released in the United States on July 20, 2018. It had a surprise premiere at South by Southwest in March 2018, and then in April 2018 was screened at the Overlook Film Festival with an entirely different ending. It was then revealed in July 2018 that the film would be sent to theaters with the two different endings, which would be played at random, similar to 1985's Clue, which had multiple endings.
However, the director has stated that there is only one ending, and that the rumor came from re-editing the film after various test screenings. Still, multiple movie theatre projectionists have confirmed that they were given two copies of the film, each with a different ending, and were told to wait until further instruction on which version to play at their specific location.
In the United States and Canada, Unfriended: Dark Web was released alongside Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and The Equalizer 2, and was initially projected to gross $6–8 million from 1,543 theaters in its opening weekend. However, after making $1.4 million on its first day, including $350,000 from Thursday night previews, estimates were lowered to $3 million. The film went on to debut to $3.5 million, finishing ninth at the box office. By the end of its theatrical run, the film grossed $15.1 million worldwide, including $8.8 million domestically, less than the $15 million the first film made in its opening weekend alone.
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 59% based on 109 reviews, and an average rating of 5.6/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Unfriended: Dark Web is more interested in chills than an exploration of its timely themes, but horror fans should still find this sequel to be steadily, undeniably effective." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100, based on reviews from 25 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale, the same score as the first film, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it a "low" 59% overall positive score.
In a positive review in Vanity Fair, K. Austin Collins wrote that the film "couldn’t seem more topical or relevant," and that it "leaves discerning viewers as entertained and skeptical as they are shaken." Geoffrey Macnab of The Independent wrote that Unfriended: Dark Web "may be an exploitation movie but it’s an ingeniously made one with a highly original storytelling style which reflects perfectly the screen-dominated lives and leisure habits of its young protagonists."
In a negative review for RogerEbert.com, Nick Allen wrote "Curiosity killed the dumb horror character, as we know from cinematic death-traps structured just like this one, but Unfriended: Dark Web stretches this conceit until it snaps, which happens about 15 minutes in." He added, "good poutine gravy, are these characters dumb, and the movie even more so."
Stephen Susco has teased his interest in a third Unfriended film, while also expanding upon Timur Bekmambetvo’s Screen Life genre that Unfriended: Dark Web is a part of. He stated that it is possible that a third film might be made and that it is important that people have a great time watching it and that it leaves them with questions. But while Susco is non-committal regarding a third Unfriended film, he did go into detail about the Screen Life genre, which is made up of films that unfold entirely on computer screens, and has been masterminded by Unfriended’s producer Timur Bekmambetov.
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