Unfriended: Dark Web’s writer and director Stephen Susco has revealed that the deaths and murders in his horror film are all actually inspired by real events.
A stand-alone sequel to 2014’s “Unfriended,” this time without the supernatural angle, “Dark Web” revolves around a group of friends that are exposed to the disturbing side of the internet after one of their party steals a laptop, finds various videos of murders, which then leads them to be hounded by those that made them.
When it came to the origins of “Unfriended: Dark Web,” Susco recently recalled to me, “I had just come off a script that I had been writing for a couple of years with a former CIA agent.”
“Through my discussions with him, and other people in the intelligent services I had learned a lot of startling things about the technology that we used very, very freely.”
“That kind of sent me down a bit of a rabbit hole of looking at what is essentially just an extrapolation of what humans do really well, which is find the shady part of the park in which to do the business that is generally considered elicit.”
“So it was just a place to coalesce all of the fears that I have about this kind of technological world that we live in.”
This provoked me to ask Susco just how much of the “Dark Web” was actually based on real events, and his answer was truly terrifying.
“One of the things we said from the beginning was, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if everything that happened in the film was something based on what happened in the real world.’ Which I think for the final film is generally accurate.”
“Swatting was a great example, this is something that is very prevalent, especially in Los Angeles it seems. In fact, it was either on Saturday or Sunday night that the Greek Theater got evacuated because someone called in a bomb scare.”
“Swatting happens quite a bit, the thefts of people’s identities, extortion with information online, peoples’ computers getting seized, there’s unfortunately a tremendous amount of things, something every day seems to happen.”
“I read yesterday that thieves in Detroit hacked a gas pump with their cell phone. I think it just came out this morning that the company that makes the voting stations in the United States, even though they had previously denied it, finally admitted that they installed PC anywhere on all their voting machines, which allows remote access to a voting machine.”
“Unfortunately there are way too many stories to talk about.”
Susco is hopeful that films like “Unfriended: Dark Web” wil help to raise awareness of just how easily technology can be manipulated, and how dangerous that can be. Although he also acknowledges that the damage has been done.
“It really feels like the genie is out of the bottle.”
“I am a huge ‘Black Mirror’ fan and they started this trend of using entertainment to show people the nature of the pool that we are all swimming in, and it certainly helped to raise the awareness.”
“The genie might be out of the bottle, but more people en-masse are becoming aware of it, things like Cambridge Analytica are assisting that well.”
“I think there is at least room for change, even if that change is leaving social media and just stopping the flow on your end. Being aware is critically important.”
“Unfriended: Dark Web” is now in cinemas.