FIRST LOOK: "Dark Web" Maliciously Clever, Requires Patience Before Squeals

Updated 8 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
FIRST LOOK: "Dark Web" Maliciously Clever, Requires Patience Before Squeals
BT Films/Universal

Are you paranoid about your privacy? Venturing on to social media likely will increase your phobia. Consider a premise: When "playing" a game, who is manipulating whom and , what if, there's a wider venue than a series of screen shares?

UNFRIENDED 2: Dark Web will please, mortify, terrify, or bore you. The giant silver screen becomes an interactive method for watching a group of 20something isolated nerds broadcasting their private group "chats" which evolve . 

Multitasking clicking perspectives go from Facebook messenger to Skype live calls and animated programs executing. The full film is viewed from the vantage point of a separate participant in the online group. It's done with a little experimentation past the single camera rolling real time found footage imagery that "Paranormal Activity" (and the prior "Unfriended") devised to deliver screams. But, the sequel to "Unfriended" diverts from the supernatural in favor of darkly "real" world terrors.

A routine opening spin has a group of innocents --- white beta male hero Matias (Colin Woodell), whose possession of the aforementioned borrowed/stolen laptop sets things in motion;  Matias’s hearing-impaired Puerto Rican girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras); interracial lesbian couple Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and Nari (Get Out’s Betty Gabriel); Indonesian American DJ Lexx (Savira Windyani); and anti-corporate conspiracy theorist AJ (Connor Del Rio) --- deciding on screen how to spend the evening.

FIRST LOOK: "Dark Web" Maliciously Clever, Requires Patience Before Squeals

It's a sluggish, brush your hair, yawn, take a break mixture of web cams. chat windows and text messages. Keep it together, Matias tells everyone he's testing his newly acquired laptop. It's the first of many lies. He's also coping with not giving his best effort to learning signing so Amaya can better understand/communicate with him. 

As choices increase (take or refuse a call?) , private communications herald urges to manipulate other group members. Miniscule suggestions have increasingly significant consequences. No one really anticipates the big picture.

The moves resemble a female's accusation of "manipulation" decades ago as I made an innocent tease that led to removal of her anklets and a question, "will no socks violate the dress code?" (A female variation of the sliders/sandals with socks controversy) It didn't; she didn't get carded either. During the interactions she made a couple of choices then tossed the ball to me. Who manipulated whom? Did it matter?

Suffice that the "game" has drastic results, especially as the "players" more and more learn real lives are at stake: The owner wants his laptop returned and based on hidden files he may be a serial murder, home invader, or torturer. 

Maliciously Clever? Yes, like the "found footage" films. Awkward. Yes. You may find the intertwining conversations uninteresting.  They manage to segue into darker edges and a final twist is a startling awakening to all making quickly unreasoned online comments.  You may pause like me and in that anxiousness ask: How many are watching me type this review... and know what I'm going to say.... and ...... did someone else bet on my decision?

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