Friend Request

Movie Information

The Story:  After being unfriended by a popular classmate, a loner with a dark past takes her own life in order to haunt the social media profiles of the friends who rejected her. The Lowdown: A darker, weirder film than it might appear, this is surprisingly fun low-budget horror.
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Director: Simon Verhoeven (no relation)
Starring: Alycia Debnam-Carey, Liesl Ahlers, William Moseley, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Connor Paolo
Rated: R

One could be forgiven for writing off Friend Request based solely on its trailer. But what the film has going for it is something usually lacking in these types of quickie genre exercises: sincerity. It’s clear from the start that, while the movie traffics heavily in cliches galore and has not much in the way of originality, the filmmakers seem eager to tell the very best possible version of this type of tale. It’s not great, and I can’t even really call it good, but I have to admire it on that level.

And besides, this is coming to us courtesy of the hilariously named Entertainment Studios, the brain trust behind this year’s other contender for Okayest Film of the Year, 47 Meters Down. While no Blumhouse or A24 (or AIP for that matter), Entertainment is showing a willingness to let directors go to town on otherwise unremarkable scripts and come away with surprisingly watchable results.

Of course, it’s still a movie about a haunted Facebook page, so … whatever. To say I’m struggling to remember the characters names right now would disregard the fact that I could barely keep track of them while watching, except Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and Marina (Liesl Ahlers), whose names are constantly, aggressively shown on screen. Laura’s we get courtesy of a Battle Royale-style running count of her ever-dwindling number of friends, and Marina’s we get as we watch her Facebook profile rain down hell on everyone around her.

After Marina’s apparent suicide is posted online, we flash back a few weeks to trace the chain of events that led to her fiery demise. It all leads back to Laura, Marina’s college classmate whose biggest complaint in life is that she has too many friends. Marina, of course, has the opposite problem. Looking like your standard-issue “movie Goth,” she pouts her way through life until her friend request is accepted by Laura, rocketing Marina’s total number of Facebook friends to a solid “1.” But when Marina proves too clingy, Laura pulls the plug, dropping Marina back down to zero. Marina accepts this and smiles happily, and the film ends.

Just kidding. She sets herself on fire and starts haunting everybody’s Facebook pages. Now, the fact is that this is distressing for several reasons, not least of which is that online bullying has proved to be a very real problem with sometimes deadly consequences. But the film skirts this issue by just going absolutely bananas with its premise by throwing witchcraft, shape-shifting demons, killer hornets, hallucinations, bumbling cops and more to the mix. It’s not a social issue film, it’s The Haunted Facebook Movie, plain and simple.

As I said, it’s not great, but it’s also a lot better than it needed to be. We’ve got some gross practical effects to balance out the limited CGI budget and uncommonly cool, atmospheric photography. And while I wish the story and characters were more interesting than they end up being, sometimes it’s fun to just sit back and let a movie jump-scare you for 95 minutes. Rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, and language .

Now Playing at AMC Classic River Hills 10, Carolina Cinemark, Regal Biltmore Grande, Epic of Hendersonville.


Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.