Anime Reporter thinks twice about accepting Friend Request, the social-networking horror movie.
Okay, so, yes, this film is basically about being haunted and killed through Facebook. It’s not a thousand miles away from the idea behind Unfriended, with a spurned youth seeking revenge from beyond the dead utilising Facebook and technology to murder the friends of the person she’s trying to punish. The plot elements go a little bit deeper in this film, with some witchcraft-related symbolism and devices thrown in. If… If I’m being honest, I didn’t enjoy this film, really at all. Here’s why:
Well, the plot is pretty generic. It’s a by-the-numbers jump horror with every scary scene adorned with lots of corridor turns and fake-outs before a jump-scare punctuated with insanely loud thuds every single time. Even when the scare is someone’s eye moving. That doesn’t require a colossal boom. I jumped a few times over the course of this movie and then immediately went back to being bored. The characters were all pretty bland and stale, from the main character whose personality can be summed up as “she’s pretty and has lots of friends”, her two best friends who can be defined as “single” and “not single” respectively, the main character’s boy friend and the boy who likes her. Actually, the boy who likes her is also the only one to get creative about problem-solving once bodies start dropping so, one character has a thought outside of their immediate trope. Altogether, this makes for a story where I could see exactly what was coming and really didn’t care about the people it was all happening to. This was compounded by some serious holes in the story as the main character falls under suspicion for the murders of her friends and the police manage to both suspect her purely on the basis that video of her friends’ deaths is being posted on her Facebook page while also failing to detain her or place any kind of surveillance on her at all. One of the only two police officers to appear in the entire movie also makes some really strangely timed jokes; one about the police having a really bad IT department, one about an apparent attempted suicide having had a “really bad day” and another weird conversation amounting to “I don’t want Chinese food. No, I really don’t. Okay, let’s have Chinese food”. It seems like the character was brought in as some last minute comic-relief but that’s really just a guess because these moments are very strangely timed and his presence actually achieves nothing.
The visuals are pretty interesting for a lot of the movie. There’s some appropriately creepy art and video displayed throughout, though this becomes entirely less subtle as the film progresses and soon it’s just another excuse for a jump-scare boom. The effects on the creepiness are decent, if a bit inconsistent. There are just a couple of insect-swarming scenes where the CGI lets the film down, but many of the more subtle effects are on point.
The novelty of this film as being horror for the social network age is just not enough to carry it as a whole. Predictable scares, a less than inspiring cast of characters and some pretty big errors in tone mean that it would perhaps be best to decline this particular Friend Request.