FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018 -- You have to love Jason Blum, founder of Blumhouse Productions; they are mostly noted for very low budget schlock films that generally result in a profit the first weekend. They own the Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Purge, Sinister and Ouija franchises. But they also produced Oscar winners "Whiplash" and "Get Out." Their business model is not to spend a lot producing but rake in tons of money in profits.


Three years ago Blumhouse released "Unfriended" which cost them all of $100 thousand to make but earned a hefty $64 million globally. It was helmed by nobody director Levan Gabriadze as his first real attempt and, while not great it was creative. Gabriadze has moved on to other things but left the concept for Blum to develop.


Blum teamed up with independent label Neon to create BH Tilt, a micro distribution company for niche films; their first film is this second installment to Unfriended. He handed the directing reins over to first time creator Stephen Susco along with some loose change to cover production costs.

The premise is the same as the perspective is completely from the built in webcams on computers. After an initial humorous scene of someone hacking into a computer, we meet the films goat. Matias (Colin Woodell) is starting up his newly acquired computer for the first time, how he acquired it makes the film take on a "he deserved it" feeling.


He logs onto Facebook to chat with his friends Serena (Rebecca Rittenhouse), her girlfriend Nari (Betty Gabriel), his girlfriend Amaya (Stephanie Nogueras), web friends Kelly (Chelsea Alden) and Damon (Andrew Lees). When his "new" computer starts acting weird, Matias tries to solve the issue by dredging through the computers files. To his surprise, the computer has only one folder that contains a bunch of video files.


As he opens the files - with his online friends watching - a hidden virus worms from his computer to his friends. They soon learn that a group called "The Circle" is monitoring all of their activities and sending out operatives to kill them in innovative ways.


While the film lacks enough gore to satisfy fans of gore, it does heighten the paranoia for conspiracy theory advocates much like Will Smith's "Enemy of the State" did in 1998, albeit with discount talent. Of course great talent isn't really needed since everything is shot from a webcam POV. This sanitary way of filming didn't clear the film of an "R" rating, so all it does is eliminate blood and gore fans.


It falls meekly between what could have been a first rate slasher film and a first rate suspense thriller all in the name of keeping the budget very low.


"Unfriended: Dark Web" is a good thrilling concept crudely developed into a mostly bland film that could have been a podcast. It will make money only because that's what Blumhouse Productions does!   -- GRADE C --   GEOFF BURTON