Film Unfriended is the 2014 horror film from Russian director Levan Gabriadze, in which the entirely narrative unfolds across the laptop screen of a teenage girl as she navigates through browsers and apps and interacts with her friends through Skype.
Although critical reaction was mixed, I appreciated the verisimilitude of how the action unfolded, with the director and writers utilising the kinds of glitches and such which all of us encounter when using computers in order to create suspense and sympathy for characters who're not much different to the usual cyphers who appear in these sorts of films.
Plus I was scared, which is rare for me when watching horror films. My hand was over my mouth for quite a lot of the duration.
My recommendation is that you watch it on a small television or even a laptop in the best resolution available to maximise your suspension of disbelief (which must be incredible on a Mac).
Intrigued to see just how accurate the film is in utilise the web, I decided to plough through the film again, checking if the content existed in the real world and in what form and the results with some commentary is below. Presumably if I'd done this exercise months ago the results would have been different. But the ephemeral web is ephemeral.
For further information and an even deeper rabbit hole, visit the film's wiki which has in-depth biographies of all the characters and such. The imdb trivia page is voluminous too.
Anyway, onwards. Needless to say there are spoilers so I'd recommend you only look further if you've seen the film.
Live Leak: Laura Barns suicide:
YouTube: LAURA BARNS KILL URSELF:
Facebook: Laura Barns
Unexplained Forums: Do Not Answer Messages From The Dead:
Facebook: Reporting a hacked account for deceased friend?
Facebook: Memorializing accounts of deceased people.
Facebook: Memorializing an Account:
The Fresno Star: Cyberbullying: Suicide of Laura Barns linked to anonymous online attacks
Facebook: Jess Felton
Facebook: Blaire Lily and Laura Barns:
Instagram: Val Rommel chat window:
YouTube: fuck everyone
Radio Labs - Police Scanner Codes
Facebook: RIP Laura Barnes
Facebook: You and Laura Barns
YouTube: LAURA BARNS KILL URSELF:
YouTube: NSFW: Adam & Blaire
A sampling of searches for the YouTube sidebar suggestions indicates that none of them are real which should be obvious from their ludicrously high view count for what they are.
The first appearance of the LAURA BARNS KILL URSELF video has a URL which now goes to a page which says "This video has been removed for violating YouTube's Terms of Service." See below for notes on the second instance.
There is also a Twitter account for @billie227 with a Skype icon as the avatar created three months before the US release date which posted mostly on the 15th January.
The Facebook link above is to a deleted page which was apparently online during the original festival screenings and friended guests. Instead there's now a memorial page [https://www.facebook.com/Laura-Barns-850524571676524/] of such peak plausability it's impossible to tell which user accounts are real or fake and features a lot of confused people in the comments.
The Unexplained Forums isn't there but has a pending WHOIS page here. Searching for some of the content text sent me to some very strange places.
When Blaire tries the Google search "report dead person facebook hacked" the results page is a pretty accurate fake. In the real world currently it also leads to a top result called "Deceased friend account was hacked? How do I report it ..." which leads to a forum entry for someone with the same question but different content to onscreen. Curiously the link she then uses with the URL "https://www.facebook.com/help/103897939701143/?ref=u2u" leads to this page and you have to click several times before you get the page for actually memorialising an account. It's clear that Facebook's design has changed several times since 2013, with none of the URLs (as seen above) otherwise working now.
The Sarah Stoudemire profile offered is an example in the film's version of the memorialization application has a Facebook profile. Her account was added in June 2013. Make of that what you will. A reverse image search on TinyEye doesn't show that the photos were copied from anywhere.
Googling "laura barns fresno suicide" presently has this Quora page as the top result.
You'll be unsurprised to know The Fresno Star doesn't exist. I even looked at the Wayback Machine. The link above leads to a holding page.
Jess Felton's Facebook page has gone.
When Blaire clicks on the Instagram link in the email it curiously redirects to a different image URL on Instagram. Neither of them lead to an image. The Billiee227 Instagram account as it appears in the Chrome tab has gone, but this is here without anything posted on it. This tweet apparently shows images that were on the Instagram account when it was set up.
Amongst the usernames of people who comment on the photo is a "ricksalvarro" who was an accounting clerk on Angels and Demons. The onscreen graphics must be filled with these kinds of in-jokes.
The Laura Barns "fuck everyone" video is now set to private.
If I was being especially thorough (hum) as well as checking the veracity of every single user name, I would have created a timeline or chronology for when all this stuff was supposed to have been posted to see if matches, just watch the attention to detail was like. But there are just some things you have to let go.
The Police Scanner Codes page doesn't match the one in the film. On screen it says:
10-56 Coroner case
But on the actual page it says:
10-55 Coroner case
Was the graphic changed to cover up an error during filming?
The Laura's surname is misspelled in the URL for the memorial page which is then corrected when Mitch (or whoever) is talking to Blaire in Messages - although clicking that link https://www.facebook.com/riplaurabarns goes to a different page with Laura's image on which has a timeline stretching back to late 2009, with odd screengrabs from Christmas themed computer games. I wonder what those are.
The "You and Laura Barns" page has similar content in terms of photos to the earlier similar joint page but doesn't exist now.
The second appearance of the LAURA BARNS KILL URSELF video says "Published on Apr 3, 2013" in the film and is 1:11 minutes long. The version in the real world which has the exact same URL is 2:30 long and was published 27 June 2014. It's channel "laura exposed" has 3 videos in the film, in meatland its the only video. That channel says it joined 26 June 2014.
The "NSFW: Adam & Blaire" URL from the film is now private. But the actual video is here under a different URL which has a channel icon matching the Billie one from Skype in the film. There are three channels called "bill ie" of different vintages. Usual smattering of confused people in the BTLs. This later instance was uploaded 21 Aug 2015. Presumably a lot of this stuff was reposted as part of the viral marketing campaign although it's pretty spoilery.
All of the results on the "random chat video site" search exist. Chatroulette doesn't feature in the top ten results any more, with RandomSkip, something specifically calling itself a "chatroulette alternative" taking its place. Chatroulette was presumably chosen for the film because it's the one everyone knows. Blaire must already be registered and logged in. When I tried it for the purposes of this it asked me for all kinds of permissions and log-in details which is far cry from when it first started and there were simply a couple of windows and a chat box. The person who agrees to help Blaire is Christa Hartsock (imdb, Twitter, official).
I haven't been able to find the final video.
Bookmarks and Open Tabs:
Lyrics Mode: Johnny Cash - Spiritual
"Dasha Zelkin" whose name appears in Blaire's Gmail contacts along with the film's characters was a post-production intern of the film. Was she signing her work?
When Billie opens the Laura video in multiple windows, the favourites on the bookmarks bar have changed. The FaceBook and the Wikipedia have joined and there aren't any open tabs. I initially thought it was because they'd switched to Safari, but it includes the Google apps icon.
Cute Bohemian Accessories for Women at Free People
Necklines - Accessories at Free People
Jewelry - WOMEN - Forever 21
Dresses - LOVE21 - Forever 21
Contemporary Flounced Watercolor Print Cami Dress - LOVE 21 2049258930
SongMeanings: Johnny Cash - Spiritual lyrics
There's a potential continuity error in the on-screen graphics. Blaire's Google history shows her search for the meaning of Cash's Spiritual and clicking on Song Meanings, but the open tab on Chrome indicates that she visited Lyrics Mode instead.
The necklines page at Free People now reroutes to the necklaces (and isn't clickable in this order) and yes, that is the very same dress Blaire (or the SFX people) will have visited - the product number and title are the same should you want to buy it for some obscure Unfriended cosplay.
Whilst the characters are all asking who the anonymous box is in Skype, when everyone hangs up the second time in order to get rid of them, the username "billie227" is still shown or already shown as connected, even while Blaire is asking Mitch who they are and long before everyone expresses surprise when that username pops up.
Not sure what she's uploading to BitTorrent, "Saturd..." ay Night Fever? ay Night Takeaway? The Stockhausen Opera? Some suggestions.
Trojan Destroyer doesn't exist.
When the screen alights on the trash bin, under SHARED items, "Bazelev's iMac" is seen. This is Unfriended's production company. Also listed "Indar's Mac" - Indar Dzhendubaev was storyboard artist on Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, from the same production company. Also "Nelson Grea..." which has to be Nelson Greaves, the writer. Deliberate in-jokes or were these sequences actually produced by the art department on one of their own macs?
Torrented episode of Saturday Night Live which keeps getting stuck from deletion in Blaire's trash because she's partially watching it on Quicktime (until she quits out) is Season 39, Episode 4, which did indeed have Miley Cyrus as guest host. The AV Club gave it a C-. Here's the wikipedia page for the season. Here's a handy playlist of the featured sketches on YouTube:
Blaire has a HP LaserJet P2055dn Network Laser Printer.
The IMdb goofs page has many more continuity errors.
Not able to find the original playlist on Spotify, this is a reconstruction. There isn't an album called Everybody Talks on Spotify. The Marley remix isn't in UK Spotify so I've included the original. This is a really strong collection for what it's worth.
How You Lie, Lie, Lie isn't on The Very Best of Connie Conway vol.1 but Hidden Treasures. Which was released in 2015, which is unsettling. Also, it's not 3:01 as it says on screen but 1:43. That Spotify window looks odd anyway - its an album view but has the same song 35 times. There is a Tony Hernandez (as featured in the Who To Follow) section of that window who's an Executive Producer though he's not credited for Unfriended on the imdb. There are dozens of people called Tony Hernandez with profiles on Spotify.