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Unfriended: Dark Web swaps the supernatural for sadism

Few films have successfully captured our digital lives, but Unfriended came close. The low-budget horror is solely set on a desktop screen, where the story unfolds across a series of video calls, instant messages, browser tabs and social media.

While it wasnt very cinematic, it was well-suited to laptop or tablet viewing and, to the computer literate at least, it felt thrillingly interactive. With no voiceover or conventional dialogue, its left up to the viewer to spot ghostly tech glitches; its basically Scooby-Doo via Skype.

Dark Web, a sequel with an entirely new set of characters, keeps the cyber-sleuthing but ditches the supernatural for sadism. Matias logs on to a new laptop swiped from the lost and found at an internet cafe to take part in a regular Skype-based games night with his college friends. But he keeps being interrupted by messages from anonymous members of a shady cabal who are willing to put up serious Bitcoin for custom-made torture porn.

Inevitably, they work out Daddy isnt home and use internet wizardry to shut Matias and his friends up for good.

As were dealing with 4chan nerds instead of snotty teenagers this time around, the story can convincingly introduce more advanced tech. While this ups the stakes, it also means large plot points are incomprehensible without a rudimentary knowledge of cryptocurrency and encrypted messaging platforms. A token clever Brit is employed as one of Matias mates to explain, but this stuff will effectively be magic to anyone over the age of 50.

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Where the first film dealt with social exclusion – logging off was certain death, socially and literally – this one asks what happens when the unlimited power of the internet falls into the wrong hands. As the bodies pile up, they feel more and more gratuitous until the film turns into the sort of bleak torture porn its antagonists would put in an order for. Dark Web is a neat concept thats badly executed. Dislike.

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