2017, R, 92 min. Directed by Simon Verhoeven. Starring Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Liesl Ahlers.
REVIEWED By Josh Kupecki, Fri., Sept. 29, 2017
Horror films have always used technology as a catalyst for terror. From the telephone (When a Stranger Calls) to computers (Brainscan, The Lawnmower Man), these devices figure prominently in a subgenre that turns the latest advancements of the future into cautionary tales of a society gone too far. Nowhere is this more apparent than in this new class of millennial horror films revolving around particular aspects of social media (Unfriended, #Horror). Which brings us to Friend Request, a film whose thesis statement seems to be “Never befriend the outcast lest you be plagued by demons.”
Meet Laura (Debnam-Carey), a popular college student taking some vague class on Internet Addiction Disorder or something, who befriends the shy, perpetually hoodied Marina (Ahlers), who subsequently becomes obsessed with Laura. Marina has zero Facebook friends, but Laura’s kindness notches that up to one, and when Marina commits suicide on camera and posts it to Laura’s page, things go south real quick. Laura is unable to delete the post, and soon, as other macabre (if your idea of macabre is spooky woods and desolate rural roads) videos appear on her FB page, she becomes increasingly unnerved and ostracized by her friends. The film reminds you of this constantly by keeping a running tally of Laura’s friends as they diminish (now 846, soon 125 and dropping). Once it’s revealed that Marina killed herself in front of a “black mirror” which causes her soul to be reconstituted into a supernatural being who begins to kill Laura’s friends, the whole thing reeks of a spooky Halloween episode of Law & Order that will have your parents shaking their heads in acknowledgment, and you, dear reader, shaking your head in disbelief.
As these things go, the ultimate showdown takes place in an abandoned warehouse with swarming black wasps and stupid jump scares, which is par for the course in a slap-dash October low-budget stinker that, of course, sets things up for a potential sequel. Do yourself a favor and unsubscribe.