Browsing Tag


Posted on July 2, 2017

Don’t Hang Up


2016                R         UK                Damien Macé and Alexis Wajsbrot                83 mins.

It says much about Don’t Hang Up that I’m irresistibly drawn to say of it: “It’s Saw meets Unfriended—with a bit of The Strangers thrown in.” What this says about Don’t Hang Up is that it consistently echoes other horror films. Some critics will no doubt say that this makes the film derivative, formulaic. Don’t Hang Up is actually better than that, and the way in which it evokes other films is actually a plus for me. It’s hard (some would say impossible) to create something absolutely new: everything builds on what’s gone before. Don’t Hang Up is creative—original—in the way that creativity and originality most often exist in the world: it puts things that have come before together in some new ways. And that makes it a film worth watching in my book.

The film begins with a group of high school boys making prank calls, which they stream online for the thrill of getting thousands of views. The film’s opening montage cleverly shows how the exuberance and excitement of the prankers is predicated on the suffering of their victims, to which they give not one iota of consideration. Here’s where Unfriended (Levan Gabriadze, 2014) comes in, which is similarly about what happens when teenagers put a video depicting someone else’s misery online. The opening scenarios of both films dramatize the callousness of young people, or the callousness produced by lives lived in large part in the abstracted world of social media . . .or both.

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Posted on June 4, 2017

Unfriended: Unfairly Maligned

Guest Post

I have a confession. I love found footage horror and have an undying need to protect the often-maligned subgenre from criticism. I’m not trying to excuse the absolute tripe that sometimes passes for found footage horror, but hand on my heart, one example I feel that was dismissed a little too quickly and energetically by the horror community, is Unfriended (Levan Gabriadze, 2014).

In Unfriended, the internet is a place haunted by characters’ mistakes as much as the supernatural and the insidious potential of social media is at the heart of the film’s construction of fear. A large majority of critics received the film negatively on its release, suggesting that Unfriended was an example of found footage horror trying desperately to stay relevant by co-opting the aesthetics of social media into its repertoire after riding the surveillance-cam wave of Paranormal Activity for the past decade.

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