After a brief chat following a lecture, college student Laura accepts a social network friend request from classmate Marina. However, Marina refuses to be someone who sits in your friend list and gets ignored, as she embarks on increasingly unhinged stalker behaviour, which culminates in her sending a video of her own suicide to Laura.
Death isn’t going to stop Marina though, as Laura’s friends start being attacked. As those she knows start dying around her, the authorities begin to think Laura must somehow be involved, but it becomes clear something more supernatural is at work.
Friend Request is almost the definition of teen horror. It’s not going to satisfy real gorehounds, while general movie fans who aren’t particularly fussed about horror will find the whole thing a bit daft, but teen newbies to the genre should enjoy it. Indeed, it’s the sort of movie I can imagine being put on late at night during a sleepover.
Quite frankly, no movie that includes lines of dialogue like ‘Unfriend that dead bitch’, and where the characters’ action seem to predicated on Scream’s hackneyed rules of horror movies, is ever going to be classed as a masterpiece. However, director Simon Verhoeven lays on the jump-moments and loud bangs to try and add a few thrills, and to get people to ignore quite how dim a lot of it is.
Friend Request also has a go at building a bit of a mythology that would give it franchise potential. I’m not sure whether it will get a follow-up, but there are points where it borrows from everything from Blair Witch Project to The Ring to try and suggest this is something that could run and run. In amongst that there’s the germ of a good idea, but by sticking so rigidly to the horror rules it doesn’t do a vast amount with it. Things such as internet addiction and cyber-stalking are thrown into the mix and initially it seems like it wants to make some points about them, but it soon gives up on that when Marina dies and starts her supernatural shenanigans.
I severely doubt that a month after watching Friend Request you’d be able to remember anything about it beyond that it had something to do with the Internet. However, when it’s on the screen it’s alright, even if it is a bit dumb.
Overall Verdict: Friend Request is often pretty stupid, but as a fairly standard slice of teen horror it gets the job done with a few decent jumps and occasional creepiness.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac