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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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