DIRECTOR: Simon Verhoeven
Matthew BallenPhilip Koch
Laura is a college student who has a close group of friends, a cute boyfriend and her loving family. When she accepts a friend's request on Facebook and befriends a lonely college student by the name of Marina, her life is turned upside down. As Marina now grows and becomes more attached to Laura, she is scared off and unfriends her which in turn causes Marina to commits suicide. All the people that Laura holds close to her will now be in grave danger.
Released back in 2014. There was a little movie by the name of Unfriended released. It dealt with a group of friends who begin getting haunted by a vengeful supernatural entity that has taken over their deceased friend's Facebook account. Cut to two years later, and we now have Friend Request. This latest attempt at the supernatural cyber horror movie is exceptionally similar regarding plot but while similar, it does contain a few interesting little twists.
When I went into Friend Request, I expected the worst. I was already well aware of Unfriended. I may not remember how it begins, what happens in the movie or how it ends but I was pretty much familiar with the basic plot of the film. I was worried that Friend Request would turn out to be a case of 'seen it all before' due to the closeness of these two movies being released. While I didn't love Friend Request, I still found it had elements that were watchable.
I'll start with the negatives of Friend Request first. This movie is a total downer. While I'm all for dark and downbeat films. Hey, I've managed to sit through A Serbian Film twice and enjoyed that movie on a technical level. Yet, while watching Friend Request, I thought it was really depressing. It may have been the frame of mind I was in at the time while watching it but I found this movie so utterly cold. This is the definition of grim. There is merely no happiness to be found in this film at all.
I think what personally made this film really bleak and cold was down to the fact that we live in a world where cyber-bullying and trolling people is an everyday occurrence. Videos of people being murdered or committing suicide on the daily. The news at all times is grim. We live in times of such hatred and destruction. To watch an hour and a half of a movie dealing with the dark side of the internet is a very horrible place to be and stay and if the mood is what gets you, this is dark stuff.
The movie also contains several scenes that don't quite add up or make entire sense. I found myself asking questions throughout the movie about why certain characters chose not to destroy certain things that they've spent the whole movie investigating or why they didn't just turn off the computer, to begin with. I know that the film has supernatural elements, but a lot of things just came across as silly on the characters part which is a fault of the writers.
The ending will either make or break the film for some people. This conclusion isn't exactly original in the way it ends, but I think it will anger people because as I had stated previously, it's not a happy one. I think because of a few scenes and character decisions leading up to the ending of the film don't make all that much sense, it may confuse some viewers as well in what the ending is all about. I think the ending for me falls just short only because I questioned the character decisions and motivations.
The acting is one of the best parts of Friend Request. The young cast delivered for me. Alycia Debnam-Carey from Fear The Walking Dead is our final girl if you will. I think she's a solid leading actress. William Moseley plays the hunky boyfriend well. Connor Paolo who I'm aware of from a few television series is at his darkest here and he seems like he enjoyed himself in this role. Lastly, Brit Morgan was also excellent as the best friend of our central character.
I think the movie had an overall sense of dread that worked. The movie isn't exactly frightening or filled with jump out of your seat scares but I think the tone of the film is steeped in darkness all the way through and the overall feeling of the movie is at times sad but eerie. It also helps that from the very first minutes of the film, we all know where this is going, and it never tries for moments of comedy or levity.
Lastly, I think the movie is visually solid. I found a lot of this film even while stepped in tones and drowned of mainly all colour to be a visually well-made movie. The film contains a few solid visual touches. I really enjoyed all of Marina's facebook art. The animated sections in the movie that showed her thoughts and interpretations of her dreams also gave the film this eerie yet somewhat beautiful look to the film. Overall, it worked for me.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- Stung to death by black wasps.
- Stabbed in the stomach.
- A girl hangs herself and catches on fire.
- A charred corpse.
- Someone blows their own head off.
- Throat sliced with a scalpel.
- The aftermath of wrists and throat cut.
- A wasp is pulled out of someone's ear.
- Jumps out of a window and lands on a car.
- Head bashed against an elevator wall.
Friend Request has its fair share of problems. These problems fall back on the writers with a few silly character decisions, a lot of the authority figures within the film being utterly stupid, a few scenes not adding up and the overall tone being completely cold make this movie fall short for me. What this movie does successfully is that it has a dark tone that is steeped in dread, some solid performances from the young cast and the visuals and animations in the film are quite beautiful. Not an utter waste, maybe a double feature of Facebook Horror with Unfriended could work at sleepovers.