Ugh… do I have to? No, I actually don’t. But it’s only fitting after seeing two really good horror movies recently, one of them I can’t talk about until 2018, I was bound to get a stupid horror movie in the mix. We can’t go just one year without one, can we?
The movie looks like it’s about this popular girl who accepts a friend request from the school loner out of pity. But when she proves to be too much, miss popular unfriends her and loner girl kills herself on video and begins to haunt miss popular. So… haunted Facebook now. Hey, if we can have killer VHS tapes and a slew of silly Stephen King killing things, like cars and clowns, this doesn’t seem too out there. And wasn’t UNFRIENDED (2015) basically killer Skype? Whatever, it’s going to suck balls.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Alycia Debnam-Carey (INTO THE STORM , and TV shows FEAR THE WALKING DEAD [2015 – ongoing] and THE 100 [2014 – ongoing]) and Liesl Ahlers, making her feature film debut. Congrats, miss. In support, we have William Moseley (CARRIE PILBY , THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN , and NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE ), Connor Paolo (SNOW ANGELS , WORLD TRADE CENTER , and TV show REVENGE [2011 – 2015]), Brit Morgan (BEER FOR MY HORSES , and TV shows SUPERGIRL [2015 – ongoing] and TRUE BLOOD [2008 – 2014]), and Sean Marquette (13 GOING ON 30 , and TV shows THE GOLDBERGS [2013 – ongoing] and FOSTER’S HOME FOR IMAGINARY FRIENDS [2004 – 2009]).
Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing, we have Simon Verhoeven, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Co-writing the script, and red flagging the film are two more writers: Matthew Ballen, making his feature film debut (Congrats, sir), and Philip Koch, known for unknown stuff. Co-composing the score are Gary Go, known for unknown stuff, and Martin Todsharow, known for German films. Finally, the cinematographer is Jo Heim, known for foreign and unknown stuff, but more or less, this seems to be a reunion for most of the crew.
Overall… no. No, I am not looking forward to this flick.
This is my honest opinion of: FRIEND REQUEST
Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a popular college girl, especially on Facebook. Marina (Liesl Ahlers) is not. But after sending Laura a friend request, Laura attempts to be nice and accepts. But in her attempts in hanging out with the social outcast, Marina becomes a little too attached, eventually causing Laura to delete Marina from her friends list. This doesn’t bode well because Marina, in a fit of rage, commits suicide on her laptop, blaming Laura. But the sad turn of events turns supernatural as something keeps hacking into Laura’s profile, spreading the suicide video. But it doesn’t take long for Laura to figure out that Marina is still around, and when Laura’s friends start dying around her, she fights to find a way to stop Marina from killing anyone else.
Ugh… it’s about as bad as I thought. What can you possibly say about a movie like this? It’s killer Facebook. I love the backstory to the making the title of the movie. Originally, the title was supposed to be “Unknown Error,” but was changed to “Friend Request” to avoid confusion with the film, UNFRIENDED (2015). HA! Hell of a backfire on that one, marketing team! I think anyone would actually assume “Friend Request” was a prequel to “Unfriended” considering that a friend request comes before unfriending, so technically, “Unknown Error” would have been a significantly improved and less confusing title.
But hey, what’s in a title so long as the movie is good. After all, what’s a Shawshank and how do you redeem it, right? Well… this movie isn’t good. It’s bad. Like, this should have been released in January, bad. What’s so bad about it? Well, it’s boring! Like, it’s that kind of bad movie. It’s not even entertaining. It takes itself 100 percent seriously and that takes me 100 percent out of it.
So I’m just going to go down my notes and see what I can shovel out.
First off, of course this movie follows a young woman who might as well have a halo over head considering how much of a boring good girl that she is. She’s almost too perfect and has no flaws in her character, but not in an interesting kind of way. But what makes her character so strange is that she’s surrounded by friends who are downright bitches. They’re judgmental and never pull any punches on saying out loud how much of a “freak” Marina is. And like I said, Perfect Laura is so perfect that she looks at Marina with pity. How does someone like that become friends with people like that. I had friends in the past who made a seriously notorious habit of talking down on other people who weren’t in the same room and didn’t deserve to be talked about that way, so do you think I’m still friends with those people? Hell no! I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life, bro!
The closest thing to a redemption that this movie has, and I’m being unquantifiably generous with that word, is when we’re shown Marina’s Facebook page and it’s full of dark and creepy animations. First of all, the layout of the animations is more akin to Myspace rather than Facebook. And second, I think I would rather have watched those animations for ninety minutes than to watch the rest of the movie. I was sure as shit more creeped out by them than anything in this flick.
What’s really apparent about the film is that it doesn’t feature characters. No, “characters” would imply that they have personalities and we, the audience, can find something to identify with to make us not want to see anything bad happen to them. But instead, we’re blessed with… how else would I be able to put it, roles. Just… roles. You need a protagonist to not hate, make her too perfect for no reason. Need bodies to fill a kill count? Throw in some jerk or quirky people; the judgmental friends, of which none are really distinguished in personality, other than, one’s a hot blond, one’s a hot guy, another’s plus sized, one’s a tech nerd, and the other is the fat girl’s boyfriend. Each of them is unlikable, and act more like middle schoolers rather than college kids, so you can already guess who’s going to die and probably not be too far off the money. And because all they ever do is freak out, you never care who gets axed off, so there’s no investment. Maybe if the kills were creative, like a Final Destination movie, or some shit, but no. That’s never the case here. The closest character that gets any real development is Marina, but even her backstory has been done before, so she’s not very memorable either.
But if there’s any character in this bunch that feels even more outlandish than Marina, it would have to be Kobe (Connor Paolo), who somehow figures out that Marina’s supernatural powers are a result of witchcraft. And how does he figure this out? He, “looked it up.” Oh ho! Right, how do you think that series of Google searches went? And how would he think to look up witchcraft in the first place?! Let’s pretend for five seconds that I even believed he simply stumbled upon this information, which the movie seems to imply, Kobe quickly becomes an expert on everything relating to Marina’s abilities. What?! Piss off with that shit! What a contrived way to explain these hauntings to the audience! Nobody cares!
I’m not going to lie, at some point, the movie became so boring that I just became fed up with trying to write notes and decided to just wade on through it and it never really improved.
Now, I do give this movie a slight bit of credit. I can see how a good movie could be made from this. The concept is the ghostly monster is targeting the protagonist, but not to kill her, but rather the people around her. There’s actually something to that idea. More often than not, the final girl is just lucky enough- and by “lucky,” I mean predictably – to have not been killed long enough to manage to figure out how to beat the ghost. There is a sense of helplessness that could have been utilized as this young woman watches her family and friends die around her and she can’t do anything to stop it. Yeah, okay, there’s something to all that. But here’s the problem. It’s all a little too millennial about it. If the characters were written to be a little more realistically, like adults rather than teenagers, then I might have been more invested. If the kills were more creative, it might have been more enjoyable. But what we’re given, it’s not executed very well, and I didn’t care for it.
Overall, I can’t say it’s the worst thing ever. I wasn’t offended by anything, it’s just standard bad horror. Tropes all over the place, pointless jump scares, imagery that tries way too hard to be disturbing and only succeeds in being silly, there’s just nothing to the flick. My recommendation, it’s hard pass. I don’t recommend it in theaters, and don’t recommend it as a rental. If you get a friend request from this, reject it like you would a creepy stalker.
My honest rating for FRIEND REQUEST: 2/5