Welcome witches and warlocks,
Today I will be reviewing the horror feature FRIEND REQUEST by writer/director Simon Verhoeven. To best describe the story, I will turn to the IMDB plot summary:
“A popular college student graciously accepts a social outcast’s online friend request, but soon finds herself fighting a demonic presence that wants to make her lonely by killing her closest friends.”
Allow me to start off by saying, this has jump scares galore. Seriously, they pull nearly every trick to get that shock from the audience and, honestly, it usually worked. The theater we were in had people jumping, screaming, swearing, and even kicking the back of my seat on more than one occasion. Those reading the plot thinking that this is going to be a slow paced, psychological chiller are in for a big surprise as there are jumps a plenty on offer.
As to the story itself, well, it is just okay. By no means is it a bad tale, but the idea that someone would allow people around them to keep dying on the flimsy excuse that they cannot give up their Facebook page is just aggravating. Furthermore, one of the smarter characters makes a few dumb mistakes that just felt contrived to get the train from point A to point B. This leads to the first two acts feeling a bit repetitive, but the third act is where they pull some nice tricks. This is due to the fact that the hunt for the demon’s downfall takes a few nice twists and turns that made more sense than some of the earlier script choices.
What is fascinating about the first two thirds of this movie are the artistic flourishes. Allow me to explain, the creepy social outcast happens to be a tortured artist as well which allows for some cool art pieces to be shown. This was the linchpin of the earlier parts of the picture as they used the dark art as nightmare fuel, allowing for some cool visuals amidst the animated segments.
Apart from the art direction, the most surprising thing about this piece was the humor. I will admit, at first I was not certain this was trying to be funny, but as it went on it became clear that they were sort of laughing at the ridiculousness of social media addiction. This became especially clear whenever it came to a scene involving the police, both of whom were an absolute riot.
All in all, thanks to some well-worn tropes used in the story, this is not a feature I would rush out to see, but it is entertaining enough to warrant a view. The third act is pretty darn good, but it is the humor and art direction that I found to be the most memorable parts of this picture. Fans of social media horror like Unfriended (2014) or somewhat humorous horror like Final Destination (2000) will find that this marries those two sensibilities together.
FRIEND REQUEST arrives on Blu-ray January 9th from Lionsgate.
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