Imagine logging on to your Facebook profile and discovering you have NO FRIENDS. Enough to make you die of fright, right?
Following last year’s disappointing Skype horror Unfriended, comes another unoriginal social media jump-fest, Friend Request.
The film follows Laura, a popular College student who befriends a strange and lonely new girl who attaches herself to our protagonist in an unhealthy way. Laura’s rejection of this girl’s affections results in her suicide, which spurs a murderous rampage across the groups’ digital profiles, deleting the characters one by one.
With unconvincing and dramatic performances, and underdeveloped characters, we follow each of them to their individual demises. The plot links social media obsession with the occult and ‘Black Mirror’ worshipping Witches, which makes a refreshing surprise from the norm for this kind of film – we are invited to learn ‘why’ this is happening to them, with a relatively-well thought through backstory for our antagonist, something that isn’t often explained in trashy social media horrors.
The cinematography is quite romantic, which I deem to be the films’ greatest achievement. Aside from dank, washed out darkness that often comes hand in hand with this style of filmmaking, Simon Verhoeven steers well clear of this approach.
The film is colourful, with evening landscape shots of a twinkling lit City, or the sunset pouring through trees in a forest at dusk, or the warm orange glow of Laura’s apartment. This unconventional style is nice to watch, and aids the scares by lulling the audience into a false sense of security and calm before unexpectedly pulling you out of it.
Overall – this film ticks all of the modern trashy teen horror genre boxes. The cheap scares, the slow build up, the iffy acting, the picking-off-one-by-one killing method. Everything you would expect from this film. But Friend Request partly redeems itself through unconventional shot and set design, even if it does end with my biggest pet peeve, the ‘scary face screaming at you’ end shot. Watch this film with low expectations, and you may leave the cinema feeling slightly satisfied.