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The internet can be a very dark place. It's that way because people
feel more comfortable saying how they truly feel on matters when
they're hidden behind a computer screen, rather than being face to face
with someone. Using this darkness as a film subject has been touched
on, but not really mastered yet by Hollywood. 2014's 'Unfriended' is
the best example I've seen of this subject so far. It has a lot of
similarities to 'Friend Request', but remains a superior film. The main
thing that it had going for it was that it was shown in real time,
which covered up the biggest problem 'Friend Request' faced - the
implausibility of no one being able to help.
'Friend Request' starts out as a very fine film. The '2 Weeks Earlier' segment is brilliantly crafted and sets up what should have been a great movie. Then, unfortunately, things start to fall apart. Characters start saying and doing things that make no sense, and all logic in regards to the social network problems go out the window in order for the story to stay afloat. There are some very good jump scares admittedly, however a number of the death scenes are a big let down in terms of suspense. It still remains an above average horror movie, but the disappointing thing here is the waste of potential.
I was quite looking forward to this movie, having seen the trailer, I thought it looked promising. It started well enough, with Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) meeting Marina (Liesl Ahlers), who is new at the school, feeling a bit sorry for her and seeing that Marina has no Facebook friends, Laura accepts her friend request. It is quickly apparent that Marina is a bit strange and is practically stalking Laura. Laura decides to unfriend Marina and that's when thing's take a turn for the worse. It's here that the movie turns a bit flat and is pretty much like any other run of the mill horror. A few predictable jumps here and there and thats about it. Liesl Ahlers is perfectly cast as 'the creepy girl' but we have all seen this movie before and it offers nothing fresh at all.
"Friend Request" follows a college student named Laura (Alycia Debnam
Carey) who receives a friend request on Facebook from a lonely girl
named Marina (Liesl Ahlers) who has 0 friends. Laura accepts the friend
request out of pity but quickly regrets it as Marina becomes obsessed
with Laura in a very short amount of time. Once Marina's overwhelming
advances of friendship are rejected by Laura, she decides to take her
own life, film it, and put it on the internet. After Marina's death
Laura begins to lose control of her life and her facebook account due
to further harassment from Marina's ghost.
I felt like the plot was an OK lead in to a very familiar concept, college kids getting picked off one by one while one person tries to figure things out and find a way to stop the person or thing that is terrorizing them. After the initial set up this movie really starts to look a lot like a number of previous modern day horror films, it just makes no effort whatsoever to try to shake things up a bit. They took an overused formula and stuck to it pretty much to the tee. I even find it hard to write much about the film because it was so bland and just didn't really offer much at all. You will predict every twist, you will see every death coming, and you will not be shocked by the ending at all.
I tend to like these kinds of movies so I was willing to forgive a lot of the film's clichés, but it got to the point where it just felt like the film makers were going down a list of horror movie clichés and checking them off as they made the movie. It's not the worst movie ever, it looks good, the acting is good enough, and a few of the kills weren't bad. However there just isn't enough here to warrant watching it over many similar films that are much better. "Friend Request" is simply a film that is so Luke warm that it's hard to think of much good things or bad things about it.
Cyber based horror has become quite a popular sub-genre in the last
couple of years, 2015's Unfriended being the other example that comes
to mind. Friend Request is directed by Simon Verhoeven (No relation to
Robocop director Paul), and is his first directorial feature that is
not a comedy, and in the English language.
Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a popular college student who is highly active on social media, which includes her Facebook account (totalling over 800 friends). She then receives a friend request from Marina Mills (Liesl Ahlers) a classmate she barely knows who has no Facebook friends. Out of pity she accepts the request. After being messaged constantly by Marina she decides to lie about going out for her birthday in order to avoid her, however photos from the evening end up on Facebook and soon after Marina attacks Laura at school before filming herself committing suicide, which is posted all over Facebook. Following the suicide Laura and her friends come under attack from a demonic force that appears to be Marina out for revenge.
Friend Request is a pleasantly surprising horror feature, which is well-acted by the ensemble. The dialogue between the characters is quite natural and creates a feeling of camaraderie between Laura and her friendship group in the opening scenes of the film. The overarching themes regarding our reliance on social media and how the platforms can manage and manipulate our lives are quite cleverly staged for the most part. Watching Laura's social media being hijacked creates a realistic parallel with stories that are relatable for us watching. Sure maybe when it happens to us it isn't a cyber-demon we went to college with, but having a Facebook Page which serves as an outlet for our thoughts, memories and, well, lives being hacked and seeing spam being sent from a source masquerading under the guise of our identity is an upsetting experience for most. We now see social media accounts as an extension of ourselves, and each other, and Friend Request uses this parallel to make the haunting Laura is experiencing relatable to the audience. However Despite this praise Friend Request suffers from one rather major flaw, it isn't scary. It's certainly jumpy, and had me leaping a couple of times with its scary demons occasionally popping out like demented Whack-a-moles. But it fails to create a sense of dread, or withhold an unsettling atmosphere that makes a great horror movie. The concept of fusing witchcraft with modern technology is quite interesting, but has been covered in previous films to better effect and in the final act Friend Request throws aside any attempt of being a disturbing social commentary in lieu of illogical narrative choices, that I will not disclose to any who wish to see the film. The music in the film is scored by Gary Go and he does a fine job instilling a chilling layer of texture in the latter parts of the movie.
Friend Request is an entertaining, thoughtful, film. But it lacks further detail to make it essential viewing, along with not being unsettling enough to be scary on a baser level. Having left the cinema I, in an absent minded fashion, checked my Facebook page almost immediately without thinking, which merited a chuckle. While there is clearly some observant commentary in the film it doesn't transcend into horror at any point, which is a missed opportunity, but it is still relevant enough to entertain for 90 minutes or so if you're in the mood for a jump-scare or two.
Review by Alexander Halsall, for more reviews of the latest films follow my blog at thebeestheysting.wordpress.com/reviews/
We were looking for a movie to watch that night and we couldn't find nothing. I finally stopped on this one, expecting it to be a kind of "so bad it's good" horror film or for the least, something we could have fun of It turned out that it was actually not bad at all. Sure, that's not the horror movie of the year, but I still found some satisfaction watching it. The actors are good, the direction also. There's a kind of thrill at the beginning, but at some point it becomes very predictable. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by that movie, and it didn't turned out to be the joke I thought it would be. It was well done and I think it's worth seeing.
Horror movies about the evils of social media tend to be as transparent and sophomoric as the audiences they are intended for, and after seeing the abortion that was "Unfriended", I expected less than nothing from a film with a similar premise. How shocked was I to find that this film didn't suck, and actually did some very clever things despite being a movie about fake online friend lists. The acting was good to great, the SFX was extremely well done and nicely implemented, the script was written by people who know how real teens are supposed to talk (with swear words and sarcasm that isn't usually found in children's movies), and the story just wasn't awful, and I mean that in the best way possible. When you expect nothing and are still disappointed, it makes you wonder why you bothered watching the movie in the first place (as was the case with Unfriended). But this film does a great job of not being made for children, is often clever in the best way, and some of the events that transpire are the exact opposite of what I would have expected. Overall, I enjoyed my time with this movie. It's not a masterpiece, and it won't win any awards, but it was enjoyable. In the end, any movie that can just be enjoyed as it is is a winner in my book.
I'm a huge fan of horror. Generally, I'll watch every horror film that released in theater, so last night I went to see Friend Request. I didn't know it was opening night either and there were about 6 other people there. I walked in a couple minutes late during the intro sequence and found myself confused as I watched about three to five minutes of Facebook snapshots set to weird pop music. The movie then started, I guess, and that feeling of confusion never subsided. It got right into the plot and completely skipped any character development. I didn't care at all whether the lead character, or any other character in the film for that matter, lived or died. I didn't understand the motivation of the antagonist and it wasn't ever really explained. Apparently she was a witch or something similar and had magical powers for some reason. She wanted to kill all of the main characters friends for no reason other than she felt lonely, I think. I don't even know. The ending was even more jumbled and nonsensical. By the time the credits rolled, nothing was explained whatsoever. This was by far the worst film I've seen in theaters in recent memory. In fact, I don't remember ever seeing anything worse. Spare yourself the pain and save yourself two hours. I'd rather mow the lawn or something than have to sit through Friend Request again.
The 2017 horror thriller "Friend Request" (R, 1:32) definitely isn't
the first movie to mine the ubiquitous, complicated and sometimes
dangerous world of social media obsession for thrills and chills and
surely won't be the last and it isn't even the first to use that
title. 2015 and 2013 also gave us features with this exact title (one
from the U.S. and one from India), while similar movies came out in
2016 ("Nerve"), 2015 (the very low budget "#Horror") and 2014 (an
American one called "Unfriended" and a Filipino one called "Unfriend").
And, as if we needed these titles to be any more confusing, 2017's
"Friend Request" is called "Unfriend" in Germany (the country which
produced this one even though it's entirely in English and takes
place in the U.S.). Other than the obvious frustration for someone who
might want to try to sort these movies out and see one of them, there's
the issue of which one(s) might be worthwhile. Having seen most of the
U.S. social media movies just mentioned, I'd say this is the best of
Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is one of the most popular students at her college, where she's a sophomore psychology student. Laura has lots of online friends (apparently on a version of Facebook) and a bunch of good in-person friends too. Laura lives in an off-campus apartment with Olivia (Britt Morgan), Isabel (Brooke Markham) and Gustavo (Sean Marquette). She's also friends with Kobe (Connor Paolo, from TV's "Gossip Girl" and "Revenge", here, with his college guy scruff, looking like a young Colin Farrell). He has a big crush on Laura, but she's dating a medical student named Tyler (William Moseley), in whose apartment she often stays overnight. So, with all those friends, what's one more?
Marina Mills (Liesl Ahlers) is the local college loner who sits behind Laura and Olivia in psych class, wears a black hoodie and never talks to anyone. When she sends Laura a friend request, Laura looks at her profile, which is listed as Ma Rina. It's full of black- and-white pictures and animated drawings of creepy and disturbing scenes. Laura's friends, looking over her shoulder at her computer screen, think it's all pretty weird, but Laura respects Marina's talent and, being a genuinely nice person, accepts the friend request, which brings Marina's online friend count to "1". Marina assumes this virtual friendship to be a real one and pursues it as such, but is soon stalking Laura, both online and in person. Laura gets understandably creeped out and pulls back from Marina, which drives the tortured young woman to kill herself with her webcam rolling and posting the video to the college's website. (By the way, that's not a spoiler. The suicide is in the movie's trailers and the incident is revealed very early in the film.)
This is when things really get scary for Laura. The video of Marina's suicide shows up on Laura's page and she can't delete it. Laura tries to delete her account, but that doesn't work either. Laura begins to lose friends at an alarming rate online and in person. Then "Ma Rina" starts becoming online friends with Laura's friends. Increasingly desperate to stop the madness (and to stop the cops from repeatedly bothering her), Laura digs into Marina's past and finds it to be even stranger than she could have imagined. Kobe, who happens to be very smart and a computer whiz, tries to help Laura out and comes to the conclusion that Marina's death wasn't just a suicide, but a ritual rooted in ancient superstition.
"Friend Request" is deeper and scarier than just another story about online weirdness. German director Simon Verhoeven (who also co-wrote the script, along with Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch) gives us a story about online stalking with a supernatural aspect that affects the characters in frightening ways. The online component is the ever- present backdrop for this movie, but the focus is actually on how interactions with this one person affect the lives of everyone involved. Some may see it as a lesson about staying away from people who are "weird" or different than us, but it's actually wise to keep our distance from people as dangerous as Marina (but try to get them help). This is a film about social media obsession, personal loneliness, other-worldly forces and more. Some of the acting is shaky, but the script is mostly solid, the visuals are creative, the mood is creepy and the twists are entertaining. "B+"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was in the mood for a scary movie and this one was disappointing. I
mean the movie "Unfriended" which deals with social network at least
had a clear direction and had clever moments. But in this, things start
to go downhill when the supernatural stuff starts happening. I actually
saw it a few days ago and nothing about this movie sticks. The whole
beginning stalker part was more intriguing but when the jump scares and
ghost start popping up. It just became way too predictable and by the
numbers. It's like most of it was to add to the body counts over having
a tension filled moments or thought provoking twists and build ups.
Even if you are in the mood for a scary movie, I say just pass on this
one. There is no genuine scares, no clever executions, or a intriguing
plot that builds tension. Just go watch "Unfriended" instead, it's a
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm a little bit critical when it comes to horror movies linked with social media, but this one turned out to be a really good film! First of all I became a huge fan of Alycia Debnam- Carey since "Fear the Walking Dead" and I think the acting skills in this one are actually pretty good! The concept of the story was kinda boring, but I think the director did a really good job by extending it into a good plot! Of course the movie was a little predictable at some points but the ending shocked me as well as the contrast between the first scene and the last one. The characters are also far more improved from the cliché, of course there are some similarities but in the end they are kind of original. I also admired the scary scenes,there were a lot of them and could give you a small heart attack.After all I can say that "Unfriend" is a good example for good horror movies in the 2010's which is why I gave it 7/10 stars! Go watch it, you won't regret it!
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