One year ago Laura Barnes committed suicide at her high school following the posting of a humiliating video online. The people who posted, shared and ridiculed it were her friends. Tonight, on the anniversary of her death, the six cyberbullies responsible for her toxic shaming meet online for a group Skype chat. A seventh person appears, with no profile pic and an unfamiliar screen name. This person knows an awful lot about what happened to Laura and, more importantly – by way of access to private messages and entire online lives – exactly who her friends really are. As the teens try to block the intruder, the mysterious person hacks into the participants’ accounts and begins posting incriminating photos through their screen names onto each other’s walls and all across their various social media. They’re told that they will be killed if they dare to log off or refuse to continue talking. People soon begin to die.
In an age boiling over with lethal cyberbullying and slut-shaming, where kids commit suicide in front of their webcams and exes take revenge on one another by posting compromising pics snapped in earlier moments of trust, could there possibly be a more timely or pertinent genre film than CYBERNATURAL? Timur Bekmambetov (NIGHTWATCH, WANTED) has put on his Producer’s Hat to deliver a riveting work that also breaks considerable new ground. Radically fresh and every bit as frightening, CYBERNATURAL is told in real-time, entirely from a teenaged girl’s computer screen. Through the stacking of plot twists, character riffs and the many open interfaces, private messages and video chat windows, it pulls off the dual miracle of making its world real while never feeling static, its storytelling innovative, engrossing and horrifically relatable. In fact, CYBERNATURAL nails the processes of how people communicate online in a way we’ve never seen done before. The familiar tones of incoming Skype calls and iMessages, the ingrained-into-every-atom-of-our-beings interfaces of Facebook and Twitter, the background use of iTunes, all of it, are put to ingenious use, serving as portals into character’s deeper selves as the teens begin to have frantic back-channel conversations on different screens while the main group chat continues. This is one of two films we’re showcasing this year that are told by way of a character’s screen (the other being Nacho Vigalondo’s OPEN WINDOWS), yet, fascinatingly, neither could be more dissimilar from the other in approach or execution.
Cleverly directed by Leo Gabriadze from a sharp, character-driven script by Nelson Greaves, stuntman on Bekmambetov’s ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER and a writer on Fox's SLEEPY HOLLOW, and featuring a knockout cast that includes Shelley Hennig (TEEN WOLF) and Jacob Wysocki (TERRI), CYBERNATURAL hits hard with a new kind of horror for an increasingly connected-yet-disconnected world.
— Mitch Davis