An evil witch hacks into your life, what do you do? If this is something you’ve asked yourself time and time again then you are in luck because the new movie “Friend Request” may just have your answer, and spoiler alert it ain’t good. Laura (Alycia Debham-Carey, “The 100“, “Fear the Walking Dead“) is the nice girl on campus, the one that everyone likes and wants to connect with including the new transfer student, Marina (Liesl Ahlers, “The Crossing“) who is a little bit of an outsider. Laura’s simple acknowledgement of Marina’s existence is enough to inspire Marina to send her, you guessed it, a “Friend Request” and with the click of a button all hell is about to break loose. Laura finds herself the focus of all of Marina’s attention, I mean the girl is her only friend after all, to a point that becomes increasingly uncomfortable for her. After an altercation with Marina, Laura quickly unfriends her and Marina distraught by the loss and betrayal kills herself. But wait not in just any manner, with a spell used by black magic practitioners that allows her spirit to enter a parallel world in order to exact her revenge. Laura begins seeing and having horrible nightmares as well as being shun for posting footage of both Marina’s death and the deaths of her friends as they begin to fall like flies. One after another her close friends begin to die under strange circumstances, all by their own hand. Who will live? Who will die? Will anyone ever be able to delete their profile? I’m not gonna spoil it for you so you will just have to see what happens if you piss off the local wicked witch that sends you that “Friend Request” on your own.
“Friend Request” has some fundamental flaws when it comes to the story and concept, but unlike most other reviewers I have read I actually kind of enjoyed the film. Of course I went in not expecting much, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t as disappointed as they all seemed to be. So, how can I like a movie that suffers from an atypical story and unfulfilled potential, easy I took it for what it was, another horror movie trading on the fear of the unknown and who lies behind the screen. These movies are geared toward a specific audience and traditionally it isn’t the die-hard horror movie fans, it’s the cheap jump scare audience and guess what it hits the mark for those guys. I could go on for days about the plausibility of the idea that a special witch code can be downloaded into a system upon death which mysteriously friends people, posts videos and won’t let you delete any of that but is plausibility really something that this genre of horror is known for, I think not. What it is known for is those cheap jump scares I talked about earlier and director Simon Verhoeven hits the sweet spot with every one of his 50 quadrillion within “Friend Request” (over exaggeration but it was close). Those jump scares combined with some decent visual effects and you have a kinda fun movie that serves it’s purpose. Decent visual effect? With the exception of the graphics overlay of Laura’s gradually declining friends list which really could have been left out of the film all together, the visuals both make up and digital are pretty well done for a lower budget non Hollywood film. “Friend Request” may not be the best movie ever made but it certainly isn’t the worst and sometimes that’s okay with me.
“Friend Request” was not meant to have you question your sanity, or tackle any spiritual/philosophical quandaries, or even address the treacherous world of societal norms, it is a simple movie. One that allows your brain to shut off, have a few scares (jump that is) and leave the theater not over thinking what it all means. Does that make it a bad movie? I don’t think so but that’s all up to what you expect to see if you decide to accept that “Friend Request“.