Friend Request: The Kind of Film You’d ‘Unfriend’, ‘Block’ and ‘Report’
Although reasonably gruesome in nature, stupidity takes over a horror film that tackles subjects like internet addiction and school popularity with very little logic or stride. Directed by Simon Verhoeven – son of German director Michael Verhoeven who sits behind the 1990’s Oscar-nominated Nasty Girl – Friend Request is yet another social-media inspired horror – see 2015’s Unfriended – which doesn’t really know how to utilise its scares, coming off as a heavy-handed and over-acted production.
The story is centered on Laura (Debnam); a young, pretty and a popular college-student who pretty much has it all, including a hot boyfriend Tyler (Moseley) and over eight-hundred friends on Facebook. She shares a flat with her equally popular best friends, Olivia (Morgan) and Isabel (Markham), and their lives are filled with endless parties and carefree fun. All of this changes when Laura decides to accept a friend request from goth-loving, hoodie-wearing outsider and classmate, Marina (Ahlres), who soon begins bombarding Laura with messages, phone calls and creepy fan art work of them together.
After confronting her stalker publicly, she unfriends Marina and removes her from her friends list for good. Her actions, unfortunately, result in Marina taking her own life leaving Laura and her friends in complete shock. However, the story doesn’t end there as Laura soon finds out when she becomes the target of a weird online virus which infiltrates her personal life and begins taking away her friends – and not just from her friend’s list – one by one.
Written by Matthew Ballen and Phillip Koch, it doesn’t really get much worse than what is an ineptly-executed, poorly-scripted excuse of a horror movie which struggles to induce the necessary fear and get its point – the lurking dangers of social media – across to the watching audience. Weighed down by dreadful dialogue and clumsy pacing, the movie does fare a little better in terms of violence and gore – people smashing their own heads against the wall and slicing their throats right in front of the camera make for quit the visual.
Just like the rest of the movie, the characters of Friend of Request are equally unmemorable with almost everyone – with maybe the exception of Debnam-Care who does at least try to provide her character with some sort of reason and substance – failing to rise above the absurdity and downright idiocy of the script.