Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Alycia Debnam-Carey – Laura
Liesl Ahlers – Marina Mills
William Moseley – Tyler
Connor Paolo – Kobe
Brit Morgan – Olivia
Brooke Markham – Isabel
I absolutely had to watch this movie. The first time I saw a trailer for it – stupid teenagers being scared shitless by ghostly going’s-on, all centred around yet another social media platform – I knew I had to see it. Another wonderfully tacky piece of cinema that is so awful that it’s brilliant. So I sat down and prepared to indulge in Friend Request.
It was absolutely fucking AWFUL.
From beginning to end, awful.
Just as I expected.
This movie scrapes the bottom of the barrell fantastically by taking the whole social media (namely, Facebook) thing and turning it evil. Yes – Facebook becomes evil as a deceased young woman remains a visual pest for one of her school peers (like one or two people many of us have encountered in real life – there’s only so many invites to play fucking Candy Crush I can take before I send the polite “bugger off” message – or click ‘block’).
In classic inconceivable fashion, Marina (the dead girl) plagues Laura’s Facebook wall by posting all sorts of shit; considering she’s dead she makes a deliciously nasty bitch. This is where the visuals kick in and the screen you’re watching becomes a giant computer page with a few scenes of constant clicking – beeping – bud-a-la-doo (Facebook message alert) – ping, etc.
I enjoyed this. The familiarity of a social networking site I use myself radiated from what I was watching, therefore I felt entertained and engaged in what the lead female character was doing as she navigated her way frantically around her profile trying to remove things, etc. If Friend Request succeeded at one thing, it was tapping into one of the general public’s main obsessions: the use of social media / networking websites – whilst turning it upside down and creating a twisted story from it. Top marks here.
When I first saw the trailer for Friend Request, I thought it was a sequel / prequel to Unfriended (2015); another guilty pleasure I lapped up. Alas, it is not. It’s a separate movie. And it is nowhere near the standard of Unfriended. Friend Request seems to veer off in random directions during its screen time; it gives the viewer some creepy computer scenes but then shatters the tension by breaking into cosy scenes between Laura and her friends / family. Malicious threat becomes soppy soap opera-style action in certain parts, it’s not great.
The beginning of Friend Request is socially sickly. A lightly pounding soundtrack plays in the background as endless photos of Laura and her friends are shown. But it doesn’t seem to let up; one photo after another, video after video. Constant cheesy grinning, hugging, photos of Laura on a charity mission in Africa with her arms around orphan kids (to show how wonderful she is), her group of friends in a restaurant, her group of friends on a beach, at an amusement park, her group of friends doing literally everything together but wiping each other’s arses.. the pretentious charade is almost nauseating. I get that the producers want to portray the concept of friends, but this was too much – it seemed to go on for absolutely ages.
Unfriended on the other hand toned down the pretence by simply having a group of four or five friends chatting on Skype, who weren’t as fake as this Friend Request lot and in reverse, portrayed friends who each had his or her own quirk which often caused arguments and tension between particular characters. Yes, Friend Request backspaces by taking a massive jump back and ends up lost somewhere in an era where nothing at all could come between friends – everything is perfect. Like Grease or something. And this whole plastic ‘dream world’ was the main area where the movie failed.
And of course, no teenage horror flick would be complete without the clichés. Friend Request contains at least 60% of such bullshit, including the following:
The ‘steamy’ scene where a character is in the shower and hears something on the other side of the curtain. He or she gets out, crosses the room and rubs the steam off the bathroom mirror..
(fake gasp) Will there be something behind them?..
Characters A and B investigate a scary, potentially dangerous place.
They both split off in different directions to search the area.
A encounters a terrifying person / ghost and shits his or herself.
The two characters shortly return to each other.
B asks A what’s wrong as A looks terrified.
A says that everything is fine and nothing is wrong, does not mention the encounter and keeps it unnecessarily secret (which is bloody stupid considering whatever A saw may come back and rip both their heads off).
The token fat girl is dating the token fat guy. Similarly, the other couples in the movie are made up of a hot girl and hot guy (you hardly ever see a fat character hooked up with a hot one, as though only fat attracts fat). What a load of crap. Come on hotties, it’s about the personality (for most people).
The classic lack of inquisitive people: those who never question the most abnormal things taking place in front of them.
Laura reports Marina’s harrassment to her friends who log on to her Facebook profile with her to help remove the abusive comments and posts. They all talk about how ridiculous it is, whilst staring at the screen and discussing how to stop it all, even suggesting Laura deletes her account..
And yet no-one questions the fact a dead person is responsible for what is happening. As though a dead girl posting on social media is ‘the norm’, they all seem totally oblivious, even when encountering something sinister themselves. It’s one thing them saying, “delete your profile!” – it’s another to have them say, “delete your profile!.. I can’t believe this is happening. A dead person communicating with you through your computer. We need to get a priest in”.
Hey, you can’t expect characters in a movie to acknowledge the obvious.
Ironically, Laura’s closest friends ignore her explanations and pleas for help.
Friend Request is complete bollocks. But as mentioned above, it has its positives and its negatives. Which is expected in a movie like this. An absolute guilty pleasure of a feature, this is one to put on and watch with a friend – or alone – and enjoy with constant eye-rolling or sneering reactions at ridiculous scenes.
Its use of a familiar networking site to deliver weird scares is brilliant, ensuring the viewer (or most viewers) have something to relate to along with a handful of tense horror sequences. The more jumpy viewer will probably shit his or her pants, the tougher viewer will simply be bored.
On the down side, whoever thought up this movie needs an imagination transplant; Friend Request isn’t overly original and is basically a regurgitated Unfriended. It’s recycled in both concept and genre, and it’s tacky.
If you pay a lot of money to watch this movie, you’re a bloody fool.
I’m definitely not clicking ‘like’ on this one.