FRIEND REQUEST (2016)
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German horror filmed in English has pretty college student Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey, The Devil’s Hand and Fear The Walking Dead) feeling sorry for lonely, withdrawn Marina (Liesl Ahlers) at school and befriending her on her social media account (which we assume is Facebook although the name is never given). Laura soon finds out Marina is emotionally unbalanced as the young woman begins to become obsessed with her. She “unfriends” the strange girl which pushes Marina over the edge and thus, she commits suicide. This only makes things worse, as Marina now stalks Laura as some kind of malevolence presence and worse still, is one by one killing her friends and posting videos of their gruesome deaths to Laura’s social media page. As everyone she knows begins to grow fearful of her, Laura begins a quest to find out who this mysterious girl really was and why she has such dark power from beyond the grave…but will she find out in time?
Script by Matthew Ballen, Philip Koch and director Simon Verhoeven (no relation to Robocop’s Paul) offers nothing new especially in this age of cyber-themed horror and thrillers. Film’s story has elements of similar movies such as the recent Unfriended, Ratter and Dark Summer, but effective direction from Verhoeven actually makes it work better than you might expect. He does create atmosphere and there are some spooky moments, as well as, some disturbing ones, too. The deaths of Laura’s friends have impact and the jump scares are well done and not overused. There are also a few clever bits like maintaining a countdown of the friends Laura loses on social media as the spirit continues to manipulate her account and kill those close to her. The director also gets some decent work out of his cast with Alycia Debnam-Carey making a suitable and likable heroine and Ahlers making for a creepy goth girl in her brief scenes early on. The film can be a bit formula as haunting flicks go and the ending is exactly where you expect it to end up, but the ride getting there is entertaining enough to past the time without feeling like a waste of it.
Not a great movie, or even an original one, but it is well made enough to get by. It is routine as both cyber-horror and haunting flicks go, especially more recent ones, but has enough atmosphere and effective moments to make it worth a look if you find yourself sitting on the couch with nothing to watch. The attractive cash also includes Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Connor Paolo, Sean Marquette and William Moseley as Laura’s friends and love interest respectively.
2 and 1/2 lap tops.