“This movie is crazy!” Producer Jason Blum told the excited WonderCon audience speaking about Unfriended, the latest horror release from his Blumhouse Productions.
“The fun thing about this movie, all of the movies that we do we have to see many, many times and—I’m not supposed to say this—after the sixth or seventh time, it’s not super fresh and exciting. This movie, as a viewer, you kind of get to direct it yourself because the whole movie is a computer screen and there’s Skype and all different things happening on the screen, but you get to look where you want to look on the screen and action is taking place all over the screen so it’s almost like you’re the director of a live TV event, which is a really fun experience to have in a movie theater, and super unusual, I think.”
Screenwriter and co-producer Nelson Greaves explained that the project was quite the undertaking in all aspects of production and not for the faint of heart. “We have had several editors, actually, every editor we’ve ever had who looked at our project has said ‘this is the most complicated, horrific project I’ve ever seen.’ (laughs) It was very difficult, both in production and in editorial…”
In addition to the unique way that the film will be presented, the way the film was shot was also rather unorthodox for feature-length film making as Greaves went on to explain. “Shelley [Henning] I’d say deserves a lot of the credit for it. We were in a single house together and we would do long takes, ten minute takes, and we were at lunch and Shelly came up to us and said, ‘Hey, could we try the whole thing in a single take?'”
“I was not trying to be cool,” said actress Shelley Henning of her suggestion that inspired the way the movie ended up being shot. “I was just trying to save my strength. I mean, starting from the middle of a scream is not that easy. So, going from the beginning to the end was actually creatively liberating. I’ve never done anything like that before and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to do it again.”
Co-star Moses Jacob Storm agreed and added that the strange way the movie was shot allowed for the technological bonding of the cast during downtime on set. He explained, “There’s no film that’s ever been shot this way before so it took a lot of trial and error to set up the technicalities of it so in that time, we were all texting back and forth and talking via Skype just getting to know each other…”
“It was very forgiving in a lot of ways but also challenging in a lot of ways,” Henning chimed in.
The plot of Unfriended circles around a teenage girl, Laura Barns, who is publicly shamed on the internet and ultimately commits suicide. Is the ghost of Laura haunting her social circle online? And who, exactly, is Laura Barns? While managing to avoid spoilers, Greaves summed it up by saying, “I think Laura Barns is everything that’s scary about the internet. She’s all your secrets. You guys out there, you all use incognito mode. You all clear your histories and you all delete things and Laura sees all of that. I think Laura is everything that’s scary about the internet.”
Producer Jason Blum later added, “It’s very scary and it’s very low-budget, very different. I like to think that the movies we do, whether we come on after or whether we produce them, feel unique and I think this is definitely as unique as it gets.”
Unfriended hits theaters on Friday, April 17.