Thanks to Friend Request
, I have learned a few new things I never knew before. Things like...
-There is a thing called a Black Mirror that has connections to ancient Witch rituals. If you kill yourself in front of a black mirror, your spirit can then roam freely and wreak vengeance on the people who wronged you. However, apparently you don't even need a Black Mirror to do this. A laptop screen will suffice. Once you are dead, you can mess around with people's Facebook accounts, summon wasps to kill them, and even post videos on their Facebook pages from beyond the grave. It also gives you power over their on line accounts, as your victims will be unable to delete what you post, or even their own accounts. Not even tech support will be able to stop you.
-If someone stabs you in the torso, you will simply suffer from a small wound, and have plenty of energy to run for miles, hail a cab, and do your own private investigation into the paranormal without any loss of blood.
-If you start to lose all your Facebook friends, you will immediately become a social pariah in real life, with everyone glaring at you suspiciously and keeping their distance. You will also be harassed by hard-boiled police detectives who will connect you to a series of random murders that they have no evidence whatsoever to connect you with, other than the fact that you know all the victims.
I look forward to applying this newfound knowledge in my everyday life...
is a cyber-thriller about popular college student Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey), who at the start of the film has over 800 friends on Facebook, a hunky boyfriend in Med School named Tyler (William Moseley), two best girlfriends (Brit Morgan and Brooke Markham), and leads a generally privileged life of parties and good times. That all changes when she accepts the on line Friend Request of Marina (Liesl Ahlers), the outcast on Laura's campus who hides her face under a hood, and has 0 friends on Facebook when she sends her request to Laura. Everyone thinks it's weird that she has no friends at all. So do I. The reason the movie gives is that everybody thinks Marina is weird because she draws Gothic art and likes to make short and dark animated cartoons. In certain social circles, these talents would no doubt make Marina extremely popular. She's just hanging out with the wrong crowd.
Regardless, Marina begins cyber stalking Laura, sending her texts and messages at all hours of the day and night, and stopping her in the halls or the cafeteria. The breaking point comes when Laura lies to her, saying she's not having a birthday party, and is just going to have a quiet dinner with Tyler. Of course, she has a huge get together with all of her family and friends, and very stupidly posts photos of the party while it is happening on her page, so Marina instantly knows that she lied. Marina is so enraged, she takes her own life and posts a video of it on the Internet. Somehow, this video shows up on Laura's page, and cannot be removed. Laura immediately starts losing friends for this (the movie provides us with a counter that occasionally pops up now and then to show Laura's Friends List decreasing), and somehow the supposedly dead Marina keeps on posting graphic and dark videos on Laura's account. Not long after that, Laura's close friends and family members start dying in mysterious ways, with videos of their murders showing up on Laura's Facebook page shortly after.
So, Marina is somehow killing Laura's friends and posting things on the Internet from beyond the grave. The police can't find Marina's body, and since Laura knows all the victims, they immediately suspect her for reasons the movie is not too clear on. To prove her innocence, Laura teams up with hacker friend Kobe (Connor Paolo), and starts trying to dig into Marina's past to find out about her background and how she could be accomplishing this. The answers we learn are disappointingly a mishmash of various horror cliches about tragic backgrounds. We have an evil cult, a mother who was almost burned alive, and flashbacks that depict poor Marina as a child supposedly being raped by a pair of young boys who used to bully her. What does all of this serve? As far as I can tell, just some creepy imagery that horror fans have probably seen one too many times before. In particular, the stuff about the rape is completely unnecessary.
This is one of the reasons why Friend Request
has received an R-rating. Other reasons include a few gruesome death scenes for some of Laura's friends, and a couple scattered "F-Bombs". This baffles me, as the film is obviously aimed at the teenage horror crowd who would flock to a movie like this. This is clearly not a horror film for adults to begin with, so why go so far with the violent images that you end up blocking your target audience? This isn't exactly a hard horror film to begin with, and feels pretty watered down in just about every way. All of the scares are of the perfunctory "jump scare" variety. But, at least Friend Request
is the kind of movie that lets you know what kind it is early on. We get our first jump scare less than five minutes in.
Truth in criticism: There is one brief moment in the film that is effectively creepy. It occurs when one of Laura's friend is sitting at a computer, and when he turns his head, we can see that his reflection in the monitor is still staring back at him. This moment, which lasts about four seconds, is scarier than the rest of the film's 92 minutes.