Director: Levan Gabriadze.
So before I write up my review of the sequel I rewind back to the previous film which I watched at its general release back in 2015, and it has been a film that’s stuck with me. It’s far from being an amazing film, or one of the best of its genre or era but it’s a film I would easily reference for a number of reasons.
It’s a supernatural thriller that focuses on a small group of high school friends set somewhere in urban America. The gang gather online in what appears to be a regular meet-up and possibly their main form of communication, but what makes this particular group-chat different is that it’s been a year since one of them committed an awful suicide.
Someone, or something has hacked their conversation and what starts off as a possibly prankster playing games, it quickly escalates into something sinister and horrifying as each of them are targeted by something relating to their friends death.
I was intrigued by it’s simplistic idea and while I’m not aware of anyone else producing something similar before, it’s quite refreshing and feels very original. There’s some smart and gory elements, and I remember hearing the audience’s reactions, especially when one of their screen’s appears to freeze.
But what puts this film out on it’s own is director, Gabriadze’s style and method, capturing the film entirely with the perspective of a webcam viewer. This and the unknown cast made me question the budget, which was an estimated $1million. It wasn’t attached to any Studios until Universal secures the distribution rights and the whole production, including principle photography and reshoots took a total of 16 days.
Looking at it more technically, the filmmakers had managed to do away with a few key elements of any film production. There’s no score apart from a few songs the friends play and a looming hum that imposes threat. And having the film captured entirely via webcam using already existing platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Skype, locations were kept to a bare minimum. I’ve read the production was filmed in one house having each friend in different rooms.
As for the performances, they are all convincing enough and at times better than the big blockbusters, especially with Hennig playing the lead role and protagonist. Some of their acting is improvised allowing the cast to have some freedom to make their performances more believable.
Putting everything else aside, the horror and the film’s technicalities and performances. The film actually, whether purposefully or not, attempts to address a current issue of cyberbullying and it’s affects. Whilst of course, a large portion of this film is fantasy, the very core of the story unfortunately is a rising reality in today’s youth culture.
Overall, this film doesn’t get the respect it so deserves and is a film I would definitely consider purchasing. It’s certainly got the perfect grounding to be a cult classic.
Running Time: 9
The Cast: 8
Job Description: 9
The Extra Bonus Point: 1 0 for achieving to be a refreshing horror film from a simple and current story with a relative low budget.