I have kind of an obscene amount of horror movies queued up in various streaming services, so the other night I picked one at random and pressed play. The selection happened to be Friend Request (2016), directed by Simon Verhoeven.
It’s kind of like a contemporary urban legend with shades of The Ring, except you know, really really really really really really DUMB. Dumb with a capital D dumb. But! It’s so dumb it’s kinda fun — especially, I think, if you were to watch it with a bunch of like-minded friends.
The whole thing revolves around Facebook (or something that resembles Facebook so closely it might as well be), and pretty, popular college student Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey, aka: Alicia from Fear the Walking Dead) whom we’re introduced to via a series of check-ins, videos of her and her friends, filtered photos, and a rapidly rising friend count (800+).
Then, a strange outsider (outsider = a hoodie, no makeup, and 0 Facebook friends) named Marina sends her a friend request and from the moment Laura accepts — out of pity, one must assume — Marina starts harassing her to hang out IRL. Unfortunately, Laura is far too busy with her hot med school boyfriend and her extremely stereotyped crew to care and brushes her off, which natch makes Marina SUPER PISSED.
Pissed enough to kill herself, film it, and then launch an all-out assault on Laura and her friends from beyond the grave. As each friends bites the dust, a video of their death is shared to Laura’s page — which results in her 800+ friends calling her disgusting and *gasp* UNFRIENDING HER.
Y’all, this film is a MESS. As much as I found it funny that Laura seemed to care way more about videos being posted to her page then she did about her friends actually dying, nothing about it actually made any sense. There is not one character that is fleshed out beyond “sassy best friend,” “slutty best friend,” “party dude,” or “angry ex-boyfriend.” The two police officers investigating the murders basically have one mode, and it’s telling Laura “just delete your account!” over and over.
That said, it wasn’t a total loss. The special F/X are pretty killer, there’s a nice third-act twist I didn’t see coming, and the villain has one of the most fucked-up origin stories I’ve ever seen on screen. Also, Marina is an artist, and I have become OBSESSED with her Gothy, creepy art (created by a firm called The Horror Workshop).
I mean ….
Big Bad: Marina (aka, Ma Rina)
Number of kills: 6
Weapon of choice: hallucinations via witchcraft (aka, “That’s not code!”)