Horror sequels rarely best the original movie, but in the case of Unfriended: Dark Web, it managed to top the original in every possible way. While some detractors of the first Unfriended might argue that Dark Web didn’t have a large hill to climb in that respect, it’s important to remember that despite Unfriended‘s somewhat silly premise, it actually drew more positive reviews from critics than negative. It was also a box office smash, as far as profit goes, earning $62 million worldwide on a budget of only $1 million in 2015.
With that kind of success, it was only natural Blumhouse made a sequel, and Unfriended: Dark Web hit theaters in summer 2018. Sadly, despite similarly good reviews, Dark Web fizzled at the box office, still boasting a large profit margin, but one much lower than the original film. Dark Web writer/director Stephen Susco has expressed interest in possibly making a third Unfriended installment, but that seems unlikely, due to that steep box office tumble.
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That’s a real shame, as from top to bottom, Unfriended: Dark Web comes out ahead in quality between the two Unfriended films. It improves on everything the original did right, and fixed some of what it did wrong.
Why Unfriended: Dark Web Is Better Than The Original
Probably the best and biggest positive change made for Unfriended: Dark Web is the ditching of its supernatural elements. While the supernatural is almost always welcome within the horror genre, it’s also kind of overused, and the decision to go with a more realistic human threat instead of a social media ghost only increases the fear factor. Is it likely that a cabal of dark web-based sickos could hack into a group chat at any given point and instigate a deadly game of truth or dare? Probably not, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility, and is still a more relatable horror scenario than a ghost that makes people kill themselves.
Adding to that point is the decision to make the victims in Dark Web more or less “random,” as opposed to Unfriended, where the ghost only targeted people who had wronged her in life. Sure, if Matias hadn’t lifted that laptop, his friends might all still be alive, but it’s made clear later if he hadn’t taken it, the dark web was banking on the fact that someone else would have. Making everyone who uses the internet a possible victim greatly expands the potential pool of targets, again making the danger more applicable to viewers, most of which probably never bullied a teenager to death.
Outside of those larger points, plenty of other things are better in Unfriended: Dark Web. Just about every character ends up being utterly unlikable in the first film, to the point that they kind of deserve what they get. Multiple characters in Dark Web seem like perfectly decent people, and even the more flawed ones aren’t without saving graces. Therefore, the audience is made to worry about their well-being, unlike possibly rooting for the despicable characters in Unfriended to die. Also, the acting from the cast is almost uniformly better in Dark Web. Sadly, no one bothered to go to the theater and find all this out.
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