FRIEND REQUEST

PrintE-mail Written by Grant Kempster

Laura is the definitive popular girl, surrounded by grounded friends, a hunky surfer boyfriend and a social media friend-count that spirals eternally upwards with every heavily photographed and posted night out. Great grades, a supportive parent and a bright future also back up Laura’s picture-perfect life… until she meets Marina. The mousy goth girl skulks as the back of class, watching Laura from afar while browsing her online timeline until she finally plucks up the courage to send that all-important friend request.

Dammit Laura’s a good Samaritan too, and when she sees Marina’s request – registering at the same time that the loner has literally 0 friends online – she accepts. It’s a decision which movie plotting requires to be a very, very bad one.

As Laura’s birthday approaches, she brushes off the eager Marina to hang with her real friends, evoking a bile-filled confrontation the next day. With the only natural course of action being to click that ‘unfriend’ button, Laura does so, propelling things from bad to worse in every sense imaginable.

Welcome to a completely different movie, where it turns out that Marina was a witch who has propelled herself via a grizzly suicide into some otherworldly tech hell from which she can take out Laura’s friends one by one, destroying her online presence until she has… wait for it… 0 friends. Attempts at scares and old-school movie jumps ensue.

This really does feel like two entirely separate films. For the most part, the film begins promisingly as a cautionary tale about the powers (and drawbacks) of social media. Every character is continually online, almost living through their profiles and it’s shocking to see from the outside what a detrimental effect having their online presence messed with has on their ‘real’ lives. But then it all just gets a bit silly.

With the first half of the film set up as more of a psychological thriller, the swift shuttle to supernatural town is an uncomfortable one that feels neither natural nor compelling. The horror is far too contrived and predictable and my God the pacing is atrocious. By the end of the movie – and an ending which utterly destroys any credibility that the film had built towards by that point – you’d quite happily bash your own head against the wall and save spooky Marina the bother.

This was never going to get a ‘love’ although it might have got a ‘like’ but alas this confused thriller/horror/drama instead gets one of those sad smileys with a little tear because it could have been so much better.

FRIEND REQUEST / CERT: 15 DIRECTOR: SIMON VERHOEVEN / SCREENPLAY : SIMON VERHOEVEN, PHILIP KOCH, MATTHEW BALLEN / STARRING: ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY, WILLIAM MOSELEY, CONNOR PAOLO, BRIT MORGAN, LIESL AHLERS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
 


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