With Unfriended: Dark Web, a follow-up to the 2014 found-footage transtextual horror film Unfriended, writer/director Stephen Susco is betting we're all a little willfully naive about the internet. Susco dutifully exploits the fear of being surveilled, as seven friends convening for a Skype-in game night realize that one of them, Matias (Colin Woodell), is using a stolen computer laden with disturbing videos of torture videos and owned by a person going by the name Charon IV, who traffics in such darkness. Matias receives a series of cryptic Facebook messages and an order to move the conversation onto a secure platform called The River. As in the first film, we see all of this play out as though Matias' computer screen is our movie screen, and Susco never strays from that format, finding ingenious ways to incorporate cinematic devices like reaction shots. But for all its inventive and impressive technique, the film lacks fun; we need very little reminding that the internet is a threat and that terrible men are actively out there abducting and terrorizing girls and women for lulz.
A handful of scenes suggest that this film could be more than one-note horror, but it's more miserable than pleasurable to watch closeups of panicking people capturing their suffering on their own cameras. Worse, this is also a movie that inadvertently glorifies hacker chaos trolls and criminals as hyper-intelligent masterminds. Horror movies will always walk a fine line between provocative fun and de facto endorsement of violence. Susco's film never gives me reason to be confident that I'm in the hands of a creator who has a sound grasp of the implications of his creation.