While video chatting one night, six high school friends receive a Skype message from a classmate who killed herself exactly one year ago. At first they think it’s a prank, but when the girl starts revealing the friends’ darkest secrets, they realize they are dealing with something from beyond this world, something that wants them dead. Told entirely from a young girl’s computer desktop, CYBERNATURAL redefines “found footage” for a new generation of teens.
Producer, Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch, Wanted) is back with a contemporary tale of horror that takes place almost entirely on Skype. One year ago to the day, a friend and classmate committed suicide after an embarrassing video of her party behavior turned up online. Unable to cope, Laura, kills herself, and even her suicide footage is captured by a camera phone. On her death anniversary, a group of her classmates go online to video chat. What starts out innocently enough, slowly shifts to creepy, then downright horrifying as a message is received from Laura’s inactive Facebook account.
Director, Levan Gabriadze, captures the tension and slow disintegration perfectly. The film presents an interesting and impressive challenge in my opinion. How does a director use nothing but social media and online chatting effectively? The screen is composed of individual chat windows, scrolling cursors, typing, copy and pasting, and a myriad of familiar sights that could take place on our respective laptops any given evening. The lion’s share of work comes from Gabriadze, directing his cast of terrified teens to react to a slowly, painfully, escalating threat from the invisible origins of the internet. This isn’t to say the young actors aren’t essential the success as well. Their very ages help sell this story as a very believable tale in the technological advances of 2014.
The film uses a persistent WIki page, one you’ll have to see for yourself, to draw any sense of the terror’s origin. As the night progresses, the body count builds until we’re left with only one remaining survivor. You might be wondering how someone can physically take very real lives from the relative security of the internet, and the answers might astound you. To say a supernatural element roams freely, is an understatement. The best part about Cybernatural is its ability to throw the viewer into the shoes of the protagonists. I can only speak for myself, but the series of chats, Facebook messages, youtube videos, and Skype, is something I’m never too far away from, and it stayed on my mind constantly.
Writer, Nelson Greaves, gave me a lot to think about, not that this could actually happen, but more from a natural progression of horror films perspective. While my generation had to deal with different threats like Tylenol tampering, kidnapping, poisoned Halloween candy, and the like, current teens are seeing real horror and evil from many new outlets. Social media and the internet, like anything, have more than enough good merit, but at the same time, cybercrime, online bullying, and the like are growing with each passing year. The film speaks volumes about the age we live in, and the threats people my age never had to deal with. Bravo to the fine cast, writer, director and producer. I think genres like this could very well be the next found-footage for our often times stagnant horror medium. Holy shit, this film made me thankful to be from Generation X; the Millennials are scary enough without cybernatural death.
I urge you to watch this with your laptops, smartphones, and tablets off. This is on the festival circuit at the moment; I’ll gladly give you a release date when it’s announced.