Friend Request (2016)
Wiedemann & Berg Filmproduktion
Directed by: Simon Verhoeven
Written by: Matthew Ballen, Philip Koch, Simon Verhoeven
Starring: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Sean Marquette, Liesl Ahlers
A new horror movie hitting theaters this weekend is Friend Request starring Fear The Walking Dead actor Alycia Debnam-Carey as college student Laura Woodson. Laura seemingly has it all: A perfect boyfriend, popularity, good grades, etc. As a result, she feels compelled to accept the friend request of a loner student with 0 friends, Marina Mills (played by Liesl Ahlers). But when Marina becomes obsessed with Laura and begins to cyberstalk her, Laura unfriends her causing Marina to take her own life on video for all to see and sets into motion a curse that will change Laura’s life forever.
The premise of the film is a good one: Take something like technology, that makes us feel safe in the face of ancient practices of witchcraft and scrying, and make that technology the very vehicle that spirals us deeper into the supernatural clutches of evil. After Marina takes her own life by setting herself on fire and hanging herself in front of her laptop, the video appears in Laura’s Facebook feed leading to many people commenting on how awful she is to post such a thing. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to remove the video and even delete her account, she is questioned by the police and the dean of the college. After Laura receives a posthumous message from Marina warning her “u will know how it feels to be lonely.”, one-by-one her real-life friends begin to die horribly after mysteriously becoming online friends with the now deceased Marina. This leads Laura in a race against time to find a way to break the curse before everyone she cares about dies.
The first half of the movie does well and pulls you in immediately. The imagery used in both the Facebook rendering of Marina’s page and the jump scares throughout are what one would expect from a solid, modern-day horror film. Sadly, the second half of the movie begins to unravel quickly and the film almost seems to not know what to do with itself. By the movie’s climax, there are some rather large plot points that strain credulity and the actual finale lacks any significant punch at all and leaves one rolling one’s eyes instead of looking over one’s shoulder. I’m sure this movie will appeal to the teenage crowd who want to kick off the “scary movie season” with a mindless flick, but the seasoned moviegoer and horror movie buff will find the overall film rather lacking in the face of several recent genre hits such as It and Annabelle: Creation. If I were you, I’d save this one for a watch at home with no better option and save your movie theater money for something better. Unfriend me if you disagree. 😉