FRIEND REQUEST review by Patrick Hendrickson – Social Media can be scary… but this? Not so much

FRIEND REQUEST review by Patrick Hendrickson – Social Media can be scary… but this? Not so much

FRIEND REQUEST stars Alycia Debnam-Carey as Laura Goodson, a popular girl at her university who briefly befriends an outcast named Marina. Things quickly turn sour as Marina begins exhibiting stalker-like behaviors, such as messaging Laura constantly, which all leads to a public confrontation between the two where Marina is humiliated and ends up committing suicide. Shortly after this, Laura begins to experience haunting visions and her friends begin to be killed off in vicious supernatural attacks.

The rest of the cast of characters includes Laura’s boyfriend Tyler (William Moseley), and her friends Kobe, Gustavo, Olivia, and Isabel. None of these characters are given a single ounce of development aside from Tyler and this is where FRIEND REQUEST unfortunately gives into the same lazy techniques as other formulaic horror films. These characters exist solely to be killed off in horrific ways that are not really all that horrific to watch. None of the actors portraying the roles give anything more than a passable performance either. There are quite a few jump-scares and this is not a good thing because it means most of the horror within the production is fairly cheap. There is not a lot of gore on display, but the few special effects that are used usually are passable. There are a few creepy visuals that show up once things get underway, but the general atmosphere is not a tense one. The jump-scares are easy to predict and so numerous that they really start to be annoying toward the end of the movie.

Some of the more interesting visuals of the film are short animations done by Marina that Laura finds and looks through. These are shadowy and melancholy short clips that really tell a story all on their own. It just goes to show that the most interesting character in this story is Marina herself, who is woefully absent for most of the movie. Marina is played by Liesi Ahlers, and she probably gives the best performance in the production, but again this is not saying a whole lot because she is only on screen for the early portions of the story.

Another underutilized aspect is a half-hearted commentary on social media. Each time someone dies in this film a video is posted to Facebook for everyone to see. However, there is not exactly any kind of decipherable message to these occurrences. A big deal is made that Marina had no friends and was completely isolated, and at first it seems that this might be motivation for her slaughtering, but then the story completely shifts to nonsensical legends about witches and curses. Suddenly Marina is simply an evil witch, doing evil witch things and any tragedy associated with
her is ruined.

This comes out of nowhere and completely distracts from any kind of commentary on social media that is being made. I leave little out by stating that at one point Kobe does a simple Google search and suddenly arrives at the conclusion that all the things that are happening can be explained by witchcraft. The ending, which I will not spoil, confuses things even further.

Overall FRIEND REQUEST is not the stuff of horror film legend. There is no atmosphere to this movie, and nothing aside from sub-par jump-scares to add any horror to the experience. For a film in that genre, I would say this is a particularly severe flaw. That being said, there is nothing that makes this production completely undeserving of receiving a recommendation. It is also a relatively short movie so not a lot of time would be wasted in seeing it either, which helps it earn a final score of 3/5

FRIEND REQUEST opens September 22, 2017

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