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Is Unfriended a True Story?

October 17, 2020
3 min read

Directed by Leo Gabriadze, ‘Unfriended’ is a found-footage supernatural horror, that follows six friends who are haunted by a cyber ghost during their group chat. The story begins on the death anniversary of Laura Barns (Heather Sossaman), a high school student and Blaire’s childhood friend. The majority of the film is seen as a screen cast of Blaire Lily’s (Shelley Hennig) laptop screen, which starts with her watching Laura’s suicide video and the humiliating video that caused her death.

As the friends are on a group video call, there is an unknown user by the name of ‘billie227’ who they cannot drop from the call. This user starts to cause a lot of issues between the friends, sending them into a deadly frenzy as each of their dirtiest secrets are revealed. One by one, all the friends die as Blaire is the last one left chatting with ‘billie227’ which happens to be Laura Barns’ account.

Is Unfriended Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Unfriended’ is not based on a true story. However, the concept of cyberbullying has been inspired by real-life events. The director, Leo Gabriadze, was interested in being a part of the project for precisely this reason as he feels that it is very relevant to the present times. The fact that this story is so rooted in the real world makes us doubt the supernatural aspect of it. However, this is also why a lot of people believe that the film does not belong to the genre of horror and are not much affected by that part of the film.

What sets the film apart is the fact that the story is not captured like the rest of the films in the genre but is instead shot literally on Blaire’s laptop. The whole film is shown through her perspective. In his interview with Collider, the writer and one of the producers of the film, Nelson Greaves said, “Laura Barns is everything that’s scary about the Internet. She’s all your secrets. You all use incognito mode, you all clear your histories and you all delete things. Laura sees all of that. She is everything scary about going online.”

Throughout the film, we are haunted by Laura but have not seen the “supernatural” form of hers that we only get to see at the end. Initially, the actors were filming the scenes in 10-minute shots when Shelley Hennig suggested that they shoot the film in one long take. Eventually, the film was shot in one 80-minute long shot with cameras on each of them along with a system that could connect them in real-time.

The actors found this very helpful in maintaining the continuity of the scenes and responded to each other’s energy on-screen. Editing and post-production work was challenging as many on-screen details had to be worked on to suit the needs of the film. It included creating a search history, chat boxes with customized issues that show up in the movie, and also the distortion of a particular actor’s screen to indicate connectivity issues.

The rootedness of the story in the real-life, especially adapted to the current virtual presence that most people with internet access have, makes this story close to reality but not quite. The last scene of the film is the first time that the viewers exit Blaire’s laptop, as Laura attacks her.

Read More: Unfriended Ending, Explained

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