Friend Request (2016)


First released in Germany, this techno fright horror tries desperately to burrow under the audience’s skin but becomes ridiculous and as it goes on and on it stretches to attaining near yawn fest status, like ones in your social media past that you regret posting.

Highly popular college student Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is liked by everyone on and off social media. One day she receives a Facebook friend request from outcast Marina Mills (Liesl Ahlers), who Laura hardly knows but Marina believes their connection to be real and lasting, so when she’s unfriended, she takes her own life and starts possessing Laura’s internet and stalking her friends with an evil thirst to kill.

Coming to screens like a poor ‘Unfriended’ which was distributed almost a year ago, this supernatural horror feels like a cheap knock off even if some of the gory effects are decent. It’s most of what you’ve seen before when concerning movies of this genre, the jump-scares and the insane levels of loud noise that blasts with it are back, false scares and creepy stalkers, basements, burning houses and insects all play the part in the big ol’ cliché hit list.

I know ‘Unfriended’ was of a similar plot and I rated it a 7 out of 10, but what that had going for it was a neat rising tension and the fun yet worrying aspect of everything being seen through Facebook pages or Skype as if the entire movie was a computer and we were voyeurs to the dying and terror. This film sadly has no pulling visual and is in fact a sort of spin off to last year’s film because it did so well. The fact then, that it is trying to be in the same world makes it feel even more repetitive and trying.

Many times I just felt like I was watching the same plot and that’s not a good feeling. The set-up is done well enough I guess in making Marina creepy as hell but once we’re seeing the true nature of her ghostly/witching ways it bleeds into over the top laugh-ability and not scary like it so should be. First time watchers of horror may enjoy this but seeing many before and especially ‘Unfriended’ this feels like a slow and tame watch.

It never goes beyond the idea of computer hacking and demonic power, it’s a pretty dull affair that seems to meander into deaths and awful changes in character instead of focusing on making the story stronger and racking up tension. I must admit I liked the initial idea of the ending making a character suffer but then a hilarious name change and contact lenses to the camera made me walk out of the film feeling like it had been a pointless and unpleasant viewing.

Debnam-Carey plays the lead like a pretty white girl in horror films does best, screaming, crying and trying to survive. She’s attractive and looks broken but isn’t anything much more than that. Connor Paolo is darkly mysterious as Kobe, tattoos, staring eyes and a hunger for Laura make him someone vaguely interesting to watch. Liesl Ahlers is a superbly creepy vision as the hooded, black haired trichotillomaniac. Marina possesses a truly twisted Facebook page and goes on to possess most other characters with her pale skin and black eyes doing the work in making her a figure to avoid.

This film is more laughable than it ever should be, the whole Facebook angle is dumb and for me an unwanted copy of a much more interesting movie. If this movie comes into your friend inbox then delete that invitation pronto.



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