Friend Request (2016)

Director: Simon Verhoeven.
Starring. Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Sean Marquette, Liesl Ahlers. Germany/South Africa. 1h 22m.

Not remembering where this came during the more recent spate of social media horrors, it seem that the idea of the supernatural being broadcast and manipulating people through the internet isn’t something new but something that works better on paper or maybe by being narrated on YouTube on the Creepypasta channels. But this English language German horror does offer some brilliant jump scares but lacks the substance in between.

Laura (Debnam-Carey) is one of the more popular kids at college, who lives a privileged and beautiful life, one day she accepts an online request from a loner called Marina (Ahlers) the two strike up a friendship, albeit it at arms length when Laura notices the dark and disturbing imagery on Marina facebook page. Laura starts to notice how possessive Marina is getting and lies to her about an upcoming birthday party claiming it’s going to be a quiet one but the photos of her enjoying a lavish dinner date with her friends and family get uploaded and Marina confronts her in the dinner hall, as the argument gets heated Marina hood falls down revealing a bloody scalp from her habitual hair pulling.

Laura tries to forget the event, but notices a mirror come alive in her hallway, it looks exactly like one of the animations Marina has on her page, this scene is probably one of the best as it’s the first jump screen revealing a toothy demon standing behind Laura, but all of this fade when her friend comes into scene. In the morning Laura finds that Marina has posted a video on her page, in the video she’s burning a photo of Laura then hangs herself while on fire.

The rest of the film starts to follow a sequence as Laura tries to track down the “cure” for this digital curse one of her friends suddenly gets friended by Marina then they get stalked and killed in dark gory supernatural ways, often similar to the animated videos posted on Marian’s page, later videos of the deaths get posted on Laura’s page and she starts to lose friends for being a sicko. No one can seem to delete their profile or unfriend the dead girls account, it leads to many “unknown error” montages which was one of the working titles of this project.

Friend Request while clunky, illogical and full of plot holes, does have some pretty awesome jump scares, Verhoeven is adept at creating a high level of fear but eventually the film becomes obvious and even tedious at times. The set up is a little clunky, we understand laura felt sorry for the girl but would she really just accept the request so off the cuff, a lotta people wouldn’t, but the slow break down of the explanation of the events equated to an odd ending, like it makes vague sense but it’s totally not logical in any way, but the film wants you to believe just because of magic. One thing that made me chuckle is that the creepy girl had no friends, like who doesn’t, i’m sure there were tons of scammers just trying to jump in there and get her bank details, it’s a great thing it wasn’t Myspace cos Tom would be fucked.

For me the best scene was the mirror scene the attention is drawn towards the movement in the mirror but the creep is really elsewhere, but the tear away scene when the friend breaks the magic is so dull, like it was purely to make the audience jump but the actors weren’t acting so it felt silly to scared, like why am i jumping they aren’t bothered by the toothy ghoul and now i feel like a prat. I like the effect as you realise that the director is fucking with your mind directly but to see the actors in on the game gives bigger and better thrills sometimes. either way this worked really well as their inaction’s didn’t give anything away.

Overall it’s a good try and has some great elements but just lacked originality and depth in the real world anyway.

Rating: 3/10

R – Unfriended (2014), d (2015) E-Demon (2018)
L – Social Media Horrors
A – The biggest problem with social media horrors

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