Because of the immense popularity of social media these days, horror movies about the Internet are already being made. The most popular one so far is "Unfriended" (2015) (MY REVIEW) which was executed in an innovative way, as if we ourselves were looking into the computer screen ourselves using apps like Skype, Spotify and Facebook. This new film "Friend Request" elaborates on that same track.
Laura Woodson is one of the most popular girls in campus, with more than 800 Facebook friends. Marina Mills, a reclusive classmate who hides under her hoodie with zero FB friends, sends Laura a friend request which she accepts. However, Marina turns out to be as creepy and obsessive as the dark artwork and videos she posts. When Marina commits suicide, Laura begins to experience nightmares, both online as well as in real life .
Acting in this film is just basic and serviceable. Australian actress Alycia Debnam-Carey played Laura Woodson winsomely so we do empathize with her plight. William Moseley, better known as the dashing Peter Pevensie in the Narnia movies, played her medical student-boyfriend Tyler. Wide-eyed Connor Paolo played friend-zoned computer geek Kobe. Pale Liesl Ahlers played the lonely spooky Marina Mills.
"Friend Request" uses the Internet and the Facebook app as a tool to perpetuate a very familiar horror film theme -- the vengeful psychotic loner. This angry rejected entity will then go on a series of killings, going through the list of supporting characters one by one until there is just the main character left. The victims here were terrorized by terrifying images they see online on their social media. Once they see it, they die a gruesome death.
Here, Marina, or whatever is possessing her, was able to worm her way into the very source code of Facebook to render any attempt to delete unwanted posts, deactivate unwanted accounts or unfriend unwanted people as errors. It is too bad that director Simon Verhoeven and his co-writers did not exert effort to try to venture an interesting explanation where these online powers originated, just simply ascribing them to some preternatural evil.
Aside from the supernatural chills and thrills, these films also serve as cautionary tales about the real dangers that lurk around in the World Wide Web and its various apps. The terrorizing effect of incriminating photos or videos posted online are also explored here, like it was in "Unfriended," "Disconnect" and even in "Rings." Social media makes it so easy now to ruin a person's reputation by a mere click of a button.
I bet we will see more of this type of horror in films to come. This one is not too bad, the ending twist was actually good. But I wish they'd come up with better jump scares and fresher stories than what we see in this one. 4/10.