Movie Review: Friend Request – The #SequelNotSequel to Unfriended

Friend Request Poster

Genre: Horror/Thriller

Director: Simon Verhoeven

Running Time: 92 Minutes

“Be careful who you click with.”

The Plot

Laura is a popular university co-ed, getting her life and partying with 800 of her nearest and dearest. She seems nice enough, and befriends a lonely outcast from her psychology class, named Marina. Marina has attachment issues, and things quickly start to go pear-shaped when she starts messaging Laura insistently. After a mild stalking, hallucinations, nightmares and an explosive confrontation, in front of other students, Marina hangs herself and streams the event to Laura. It is all over Laura’s Facebook, even though she tries to delete the video. This results in Laura losing Facebook friends, the respect of her real friends, and gaining suspicion from the police. And then, on top of all this, Laura’s housemates and friends start getting picked off by an unseen entity.

Friend Request_Lara

Performances & Special Effects

I went into this film with very little hope decent performances but was pretty surprised that the cohesion within the group made for believable friendships. I even laughed at some of their antics and found myself not hating anyone as strongly as I hated the entire cast of Ouija. The strongest performance, in my opinion, was given by Liesl Ahlers as Marina. I was well impressed with her creepy factor and convincing loner performance. Second to Liesl, I also thoroughly enjoyed the development of Connor Paolo‘s character Kobe a.k.a Hackerman.

Honourable mentions go out to Laura’s two besties, Brit Morgan and Brooke Markham who were particularly compelling during their death scenes.

Friend Request_Makeup.jpg

The special effects weren’t bad, but the I must admit that this film did not live up to its R-rating. Most deaths happen off screen, followed up by a shocking 2 second reveal of he corpse. This could have really been ramped up, and added to the horror aspect of the film, if it had been use effectively. The make-up was believable but had moments where the facade faded. It was obvious that contact lenses were used, and at times the blood was a little to candy apple red. Overall, I think that they played it a little too safe here.

The Review

Please don’t do what I did and watch this movie thinking that it’s the sequel to the 2014 Universal Studios offering Unfriended. It’s not. Though Unfriended‘s sequel had been greenlit, it has not yet started production. Friend Request is, however, one with the Mac, though to a lesser degree than Unfriended was.

Friend Request_Code

That caveat out of the way, I will say that this film played the horror game far too safe for my liking. I can see it being a fun watch for a movie night with a group of your easily scared friends but overall, it was predictable and at times unimaginative with its jump scares. Especially for an R-rating. There were also a number of plot points that could have been better utilised, like the fact that the source code was not regular code (pictured above). The use of wasps was overplayed and anti-climactic. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the imagery in Marina’s animations and their use throughout the film. That was very effective and well thought out.

Friend Request_Oppenheimer Library

One distraction, which was in no way the film’s fault, was seeing my Alma Mater and place of work of screen constantly. I will say that the University of Cape Town makes for a pretty picture but I was wholly distracted by the fact that we never had that many table and chairs when I was a student! I didn’t realise how easily immersion could be broken by seeing such immediately familiar settings.

I enjoyed Friend Request but would have appreciated if they had give me more. More horror, more gore, more story and fewer plot-holes and unused devices.

My rating: 3/5

Buy Friend Request from Amazon.

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