Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Friend Request

"Friend Request" (2016, Simon Verhoeven, Warner Bros., Freestyle Releasing, Wiedemann & Berg Film, SevenPictures Film, Two Oceans Productions) is a supernatural horror centred around social media and a college campus.

Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a popular girl with over 800 social media friends. She lives off-campus with a group of pals and gets good grades. One day, she receives a friend invite from a reclusive girl in her class, Marina (Liesl Ahlers). Laura accepts the girl's request, seeing that she would become Marina's first friend... She even tries to connect in person. Big mistake. The girl becomes obsessed and takes very public umbridge when she is not invited to Laura's birthday dinner, vowing to get revenge on Laura for slighting her.

Laura gets freaked out and deletes Marina on social media. The next day news comes that Marina has committed suicide. Not just that, but she filmed it and the video has went viral about campus. In her death video, Marina publicly names Laura as the reason for her suicide. Laura's many friends begin to shun her and she soon suspects that she has been cursed...

The film has a good premise. Social media is the latest trend in horror lore, taking over from some of the older evil-technology films including the "Ring" series, etc... It does suffer from some bad scripting, some hammy scenes and a lot of tropes: of course the recluse is a goth, of course she is an orphan...

It's all very by-the-numbers, but is perfect for its target audience - teens who may just be getting into horror. As an established horror fan, it falls a little flat to me, but I don't believe I'm in their intended demographic. Whilst that does make the film suffer a little, it does deliver some good scenes and a strong, if flawed, message about being careful who you add on social media, and how much of yourself you put out there. You just never know what will be used against you.

[Image: Warner Bros., et al]