Director: Simon Verhoeven
Cast: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Sean Marquette, Liesl Ahlers, Shashawnee Hall, Nicholas Pauling
Runtime: 1 hr 33 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Horror and Some Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/UnfriendDerFilm/
Opening Day: 28 April 2016
Synopsis: LAURA is a popular college student who lives her college life to the fullest and gladly shares it with her 800 Facebook friends. But when she accepts a friend request from her mysterious classmate MARINA, she unwillingly sets a terrible curse in motion. The dead girl’s impenetrable profile begins to drive Laura into isolation. It takes control of Laura’s virtual world and her real life as well. One after another, her closest friends die horrendous deaths. Leaving Laura with only a few days to solve the enigma of this haunting curse to save the few friends she has left, as well as her own life.
Fear the Walking Dead star Alycia Debnam-Carey portrays Laura, a popular girl in university who got herself in shocking troubles after unfriending a lonely, gothic-looking classmate named Marina (Liesl Ahlers) on social media.
To begin with, Laura has a healthy group of friends around her, has a boyfriend (William Moseley from The Chronicles of Narnia) who is studying medical and looks reasonable well off while Marina seems to be all alone in the world, probably has a tragic past and she might be practicing witch craft in her free time. It’s mean to prejudiced against gothic looking girls but that’s what Hollywood is good at.
Laura apparently is not the typical stuck up rich girl. It’s just that Marina is fast becoming obsessive and simply can’t stop sending text to Laura. You can’t help but sympathize with Laura and you are eager to find out more about the mysterious Marina. But wait, this is not really a dramatic title about friendships and such.
Friend Request is a horror thriller built around a social platform called facebook although for obvious legal reason, this was never mentioned. Anyway, after Marina hung and burnt herself alive, Laura finds that all her best friends dies one by one under mysterious circumstances and her social media account has all the terrifying videos of how they died. Is the ghost of Marina hacking into Laura’s account? And why are Marina and her wasps doing this to the sweet poor Laura?
You might assumed Friend Request has more things to say especially with all the cyber-stalking cases emerging in recent years but director Simon Verhoeven brought nothing new to the table except cranking up the volume of ominous music and inserting numerous jump scares to jolt your senses. Expect the usual long corridor walks, reflective mirrors, lots of wasps and product placement (Macbooks) because every school student carries one nowadays. The supernatural aspect offers no closure and sadly a pretty haphazard explanation is conjured to justify Marina’s tragic past and motive.
None of the young cast members are particularly memorable. They are probably cast because they are cheap to hire and a good screamer. Besides Debnam-Carey and Moseley, there’s Gossip Girl’s Connor Paolo as Laura’s tech-obsessed friend and two nincompoop cops who appear whenever Laura’s friends met their gruesome deaths. We do not know if their appearances are meant for laughs but we are at least entertained by their presence.
In simple term, this is a combination of slasher film and the revenge horror genre. The social media arc is just a sweetener. Scream meets Candyman meets The Ring and you have Friend Request. Mark Zuckerberg for sure will ‘unfriend’ this.
(Yet another supernatural horror that hardly worth your time and money)
Review by Linus Tee