Review: Friend Request

Friend Request
2 10

PLOT: After the tragic death of a loner classsmate, a popular psych major descovers her and her friends are being haunted by the girl's ghost via the computer. 

REVIEW: Sometimes you get exactly what you expect from a trailer. And sometimes that is not a good thing. Last week I caught the preview for FRIEND REQUEST, the new social media/supernatural horror film. It wasn’t good. Still, you never know if they just didn’t know how to advertise the film, or perhaps they want to save the best bits for viewing. Boy did they get this one right. This is a mess of a film, and it proves that just because you load up a flick with a few gory images, loud blasts of music and f-bombs, it doesn’t mean that it’s good. If you aren’t a fan of absurd jump scares and fake set-ups, then you will be constantly annoyed by this. Aside from a surprisingly decent cast, it’s actually shocking that this one is getting a theatrical release. I’ve seen much better genre selections that went straight to Netflix.

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Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a popular psych major who has a supportive circle of friends. And most importantly, a whole lot of Facebook connections (sarcasm intended). When she decides to accept a friend request from a strange classmate by the name of Marina (Liesl Ahlers), she unwittingly opens the door to a stalker like relationship. After Marina is shut out of a birthday party, the lonely girl takes her own life and posts it online. This tragic occurrence seemingly conjures up an evil force as Laura’s Facebook page begins to take on a life of its own. After her page posts the apparent suicide, her friends begin to turn on her, especially when those around her begin to die and then their videos show up as well. Can she stop whatever evil force is trying to destroy her? Or perhaps a better question is, will anybody care?

FRIEND REQUEST takes an old storytelling trick, and it starts off with a scene two weeks into the timeline. And frankly, it is a lazy way to begin, especially since it adds nothing to the film. It doesn’t get any better. The first part of the movie examines the fast - and incredibly unrealistic - developing friendship between Laura and the bizarre goth girl. By the time it all goes to hell and the girl apparently kills herself, we are left to witness the demise of a bunch of people we care nothing about. And of course we see Laura’s friend list decrease and those that remain call her out for posting such horrible videos. Perhaps they were trying to make a statement on a society obsessed with social media, but they only succeeded in making a vapid clunker that relies on horror stereotypes and nothing more. There is not a damn thing that is new or interesting here.

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The only praise I can give this awful film - aside from it being so bad it's occasionally funny - is that the cast manage to make it through the material without looking too terrible. Of course most of these characters are so poorly written that they just came off as superficial morons that aren’t worth your time. In the leading role, Alycia Debnam-Carey is able to give Laura a least a little bit of depth. She is as good as she could possibly be. Other than that the only ones that you really care about are William Moseley and Connor Paolo, both play romantic interests to Laura. As for everybody else, we only really get to know anything about them right before they face the evil Facebook demon - I won’t give away the secrets. To be fair, we do get to know the lovely Brit Morgan’s character a bit, but she is kind of an awful and soulless person so it’s hard to feel much for her. The actress does the best she can.

The script here is generic as is the direction. At one point when there is a horrific occurrence that happens in front of two dimwit detectives, one responds to the other with that popular and modern way of questioning someone. He actually says “Really???” to his partner after somebody is violently killed. The dialogue between them is atrocious. If you didn’t like the moronic cops in Wes Craven’s classic THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, you’ll despise these two. Hell, they borrowed nearly everything in this flick. Shades of FINAL DESTINATION to the recent UNFRIENDED, there is not an original idea in sight. And as for the villain, you won’t find much to really connect to either that hasn’t been done much better before.

FRIEND REQUEST begs and borrows from much better movies, it features vapid characters and the CGI wasps are ridiculous - don’t ask. This is a miserable flick, one that only manages to be entertaining because it is so terrible. Everything here is dull; the score, the look and the story that we’ve all seen all too often. As far as making a statement on our obsession with Facebook, Twitter and such, there are much more interesting viewing choices out there. Hell, this year you'd be much better off checking out the non-genre flick INGRID GOES WEST, which is a great example of the effects of social media on modern culture. With October coming up, fans are going to want to get their horror fix, and frankly this isn’t it. If you get this FRIEND REQUEST, make sure you delete it.

Source: JoBlo.com



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