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Friend Request (a movie review)

I‘ve kinda passed over this movie when it was first released in 2016, mainly for the lack of time, but I‘d made a mental note to see it one day, as I consider the settings quite fitting for a modern horror movie – you know, we‘re all surrounded by social media now…OK, OK, I know you‘re not! 🙂

Well, first we had a haunted VHS tape in Ringu and its American remake, so with the development of internet and social media, it was only logical we would see its use in the horror as well.

And so we have Antisocial and Antisocial 2, although somewhat problematic, and we have Unfriended and Unfriended: Dark Web. And we have Friend Request, also known as Unfriend (in Germany).

The story can‘t be simpler. The everyone‘s favourite girl Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) friends (over the Facebook) a lone loser in a form of weird Goth-like girl named Marina (Liesl Ahelrs), who becomes attached to her to the point of stalking Laura, and after a confrontation over not inviting Marina to her birthday party, Laura unfriends Marina. No big deal, right?

Wrong! Because shit happens. Marina commits a suicide (well, it is a suicide, but we will learn later in the movie there‘s something more into it), but haunts Laura from beyond the grave, killing Laura‘s close friends and forcing others to unfriend Laura. The goal: to make Laura lonely as Marina once was.

Not spoiling the whole movie (but I guess a reader can now guess what‘s gonna happen in the end), I have to say it was quite well done, and it strength lies in that it shows how important some connection with other people through the social media might be.

The problem with the movie starts in the second half, when it becomes evident the creators didn‘t really have enough interesting and – at least on surface – logical developments. The searching for the place of Marina‘s suicide reminds viewers of searching for Samara in Ring, but the whereabouts of Marina revealed by the principal of the school just like that to someone who just showed at the door lack trustworthiness. It simply doesn‘t happen like this, sorry. Similarly, the stuff with Laura‘s friend and helper Kobe (Connor Paolo) at the end of the movie was absolutely unnecessary, especially when she should be one safe from any death threat. Go figure. And not to mention an idiotic behaviour of police detectives and the dismissal of Laura due to the post to her Facebook (ok, it was never mentioned by its name, so let‘s say, to her social media network) by the school principal was just silly and simply would end up in a unlawful dismissal charge against the school. And Laura just accepting that without any resistance? OK, I know it‘s a movie, but at least we should follow logical/legal etc. stuff, if only lightly. Shame, because stuff like that just brought the whole movie down.

Visual effects were quite good, Marina‘s post-mortem burnt face reminds me of the zombie/possessed in the cellar in Evil Dead 2, but that‘s a nice bonus.

Sealed, signed and delivered, it was not a waste of time, although yes, it could be much better, especially the storyline is found lacking a little. But if you liked Ringu/Ring and you are addicted to social media, u might really enjoy this one.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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