History vs. Hollywood: Unfriended (Cybernatural)

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A Brief History

On April 17, 2015, Universal Pictures releases Unfriended (previously known as Cybernatural and before that as Offline) to theaters in the United States of America.  The film tells the story of the paranormal aftermath of when a high school student named Laura Barns committed suicide due to ridicule received over an embarrassing video of her passed out at a party, but did this incident really happen?

Digging Deeper

An initial search of the internet might suggest that the incident actually occurred.  The embarrassing video of drunk Laura was posted on Youtube here, but “has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully or threaten.”  Her subsequent suicide video was posted on LiveLeak here.  Despite being partially “banned from the internet“, both videos do appear in full in the film.  You can also visit Laura’s Facebook page here.

Nevertheless, all of the above links are nothing more than a marketing campaign.  As Snopes reports, the film’s “creators have…explained fully that the effort is a work of fiction not based upon any real-life events…Unfriended features vague parallels to several real-life tragedies linked to social media harassment or cyberbullying, but none of those was specifically cited as an inspiration for the film by its creators.  Moreover, the movie’s premise focuses upon the supernatural manner in which a deceased victim of online harassment seeks revenge upon her tormentors.”

With that said, we, The JCU Paranormal Research Group, saw a preview screening of the film and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Despite being fictitious, the film is presented in a rather original and creative manner that is surprisingly engaging.  It is definitely a film recommended by us!

Historical Evidence

For more information on the subject of cyberbullying (albeit without the paranormal element…), please see:

Taylor, Clara.  Bullying: Online Harassment Guide for Prevention, Detection and Helping Victims to Recover from cyberbullying (Cyberbullying- Bullying books for kids and … Cyber Stalking – Internet Bullying Book 1).  2014.

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About Author

JCU Paranormal Research Group

The John Carroll Paranormal Research Group is a student organization that seeks to find out more about the paranormal while being academically intent and focusing on establishing credibility. Founded in the Fall of 2013 by Eugene Claridge and Raymond Camma, the BooStreaks have held many informative meetings that have included guest speakers, such as Dr. Judith Cetina and Bill Kreji, who appeared on Ghost Hunters in 2009. The group has worked with the Ohio P.I.R.A.T.E.S., a paranormal team out of Akron, Ohio, to learn some of their methods and to hear about their work. The Paranormal Research Group has conducted investigations in the following locations: the Cleveland Agora Theatre, the Ohio State Reformatory, the Russell Rhodes Mansion (a.k.a. the Cuyahoga County Archives), and the Sandy Chanty Seafood Restaurant. John Carroll University has recognized the group both in the Carroll News and most importantly, as the "Outstanding Organization of the Year." Not only has the group been able to explore the paranormal subject and investigated historically important locations in Ohio, but members had the fortunate opportunity to see advance screenings of major motion pictures that feature the paranormal, particularly The Quiet Ones (2013). After one academic year, group membership has risen to about eighty members, who seek further journeys this upcoming year. Please check out our Facebook and Twitter pages!