Last night I did something that I have never done before. No, not “touch a woman”. I’ve done that before, you ass hole reader of my blog. For the first time ever in my life, I walked out of a movie before it was over. I can only remember two other instances where I thought about walking out of a movie and in both instances I was glad I didn’t.
The first was the Johnny Knoxsville movie “The Ringer”. It was really awful for the first half hour or so, but then it got good. Not an amazing or great movie, but it at least wasn’t so bad that I wanted to leave.
The second movie, and I can’t believe this in hinesigth, was the movie “Drive” starring Ryan Gossling. The movies opening scene was pretty good, but then it hit such a lull where none of the characters were even talking. In fact they just kind of stared and awkwardly grinned at each other. It was painful the first time I saw it and I was kind of affraid that it was going to be like that for the rest of the movie. Drive turned out to be one of the best movies of the year that should have gotten way more box office love. What did in that movie was that they marketed it like it was a spin off of the Fast and Furious franchise and not like a sleek 80s noir tough guy heart of gold movie that it really was.
So those were two instances where I was glad I toughed it out. Last night however I really should have tapped out way earlier than I did. I saw the movie “Unfriended” and I wasn’t the only one who walked out of the movie. In fact 100% of the theater walked out. Granted there was only 6 people in the theater, but 100% is still 100%. In fact even 1% or .01% is probably too high of a number.
Of the six people there, two of us were by our selves, and the other four were a group of teenage or early 20 something girls. The first guy who left was a dude similar to me from what I could tell, sad, homely, nothing to do, loves cheap movie theater popcorn. He took off after about 10 minutes. The pack of girls left about 40 minutes into the film. I was going to leave at that moment too, but when they got up to leave I decided to stay since I thought it would have been weird to leave at the same time. I stayed another 10 minutes and the bounced.
So why did I leave? Well in short, the entire movie takes place on a computer screen.
Just let that sink in for a moment.
The entire movie is based around you as the audience having the POV of the main protagonist as she types on the computer screen. And not even really her POV since you never see anything other than the computer screen. To be more accurate it is more like the movie is a Camtasia screen recording of a teenage girls apple computer for 83 minutes.
Before I start bitching about why I felt I had to leave the theater before the end of the movie, let me give some caveats in defense of the movie. First of all, I thought this was just a standard fair horror movie with cyber bullying as a plot point and a back drop. I had no idea the movie was entirely online if you will. Instead of going in with an open mind about the format of the movie and maybe being intrigued by the unique structure, I instead became really disappointed when I started to realize that all the computer screen stuff in the first 10 minutes of the movie wasn’t just a set up for a regularly filmed final 73 minutes of the movie.
Another issue I had with the movie, that isn’t actually the movies fault, is that I didn’t have my glasses. So when there was a lot of typing in instant messenger and facebook in those first 10 minutes, I tried to squint to make out the words, and then quickly gave up thinking that the rest of the movie will provide enough context clues that I’m probably not missing anything major. Once I realized that a good portion of the ongoing movie was going to be played out in a chat window, I got up and moved much closer to the screen.
A third problem I had with the movie that might not be fair to the movie is that it featured a bunch of very punchable teenagers. I know most teenagers in movies aren’t really that similar to real teenagers since it makes them more appealing to wider audience. Having these characters actually act like annoying, self centered, arrogant, self absorbed, vapid teenagers, made me root against them. None of them were very likable, and several were down right detestable.
I read online that this movie only cost about a million dollars to make and made 45 million at the box office. That’s fantastic and good for them. I kind of feel like shitting on this movie is a fools errand cause I would be criticizing it for trying to be something that it never tried to be. For example, if I criticized the movie for the cliche way the characters were one by one killed off, including one instance where a guy just randomly shot himself in the face while on webcam, I would also have to try and offer an alternative. I don’t know if I could do that.
This is a movie that is suppose to take place entirely online, so you either go with the restrictions inherent in this set up, or you do a completely different type of movie that is going to probably end up being just like every other cookie cutter horror movie out there right now.
The real question is given the limitations of the premise of the movie and ignoring the issues I had going into the movie (glasses, didn’t see a preview), could they have done anything to make it better? Probably. A lot of little things like make the characters more likable at the beginning. You can still make them awful later on through revealing secrets they don’t want anyone to know. As the movie progressed and you learned these secrets they seemed less like moments of weakness and youthful mistakes, and more like extensions of the shitty people the seemed to be at the beginning of the movie. I think there could have been a little more video especially early on and less watching people type of skype. More youtube videos, maybe even fun youtube short clips of something funny or endearing that one or several of the teenagers did that breaks up the monotony and makes them likable.
I really seem to be hammering this likable thing, but I think it is warranted. My main problem with the teenage characters are two fold. One they are teenagers and talk just like teenagers and say stupid teenage things. Two, I am part of a generation where everything online was ancillary. It is hard for me to watch something like this and not think “Get the fuck off the computer and do something. Drive to someones house. Un plug the CPU from the wall. Stop acting like pussies.” Once again, that kind of would ruin the movie if someone did that, similarly to people in standard horror movies not doing half the stupid shit they do.
In summation, I think I was doomed to not like this movie for a whole host of reasons. I give it 4 out of 10 related “forgetting Sarah Marshall” clips: