Plot: Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is one of the more popular girls at her school, but she isn’t the prototypical mean girl, instead she is a thoughtful and kind person, an anomaly in the clique fueled social world of high school. Her father’s work in the mental health field has made her sensitive to the inner turmoil of others, so she isn’t as dismissive or judgmental as most of the popular students. So when she encounters Marina (Liesl Ahlers) on social media, she notes that the girl has no friends or followers, but she does create some interesting, albeit dark artwork. So she friends Marina and starts to build a rapport, hoping to connect with Marina in ways that help her overcome her personal demons. But while things start off innocently enough, soon it becomes clear Marina has some dark secrets and Laura has been pulled into her world.
Entertainment Value: This movie had Mark Zuckerberg up in arms, trying to have it taken out of theaters and buried, all because it might damage Facebook’s pristine reputation. The movie never references Facebook of course, but it is an obvious take on the social media service and while Zuckerberg’s tantrum is humorous, Friend Request doesn’t provide much of a reason to get worked up. The movie has a dark atmosphere and is even R rated, but does little to earn it and seems content to be a generic, teen aimed horror picture. In other words, the movie relies on jump scares and makes some desperate attempts to seem plugged into youth culture, the latter of which fails in epic fashion, but adds some humorous moments. I do appreciate that Friend Request tries to be serious and goes for a dark visual design, so it at least feels like a horror movie, but it just never works. The pace is slow, despite the obvious attempts to reel in younger viewers and the scares are predictable, with very little effort to make the horror creative or at least interesting. But the atmosphere is solid, so the movie is better than it should be and to be fair, is better than a good amount of the teen aimed horror out there, as faint praise as that might be. I can’t give it much of a recommendation though, unless you just love social media driven horror movies.
This one is rated R, so we could have seen some sleaze, but no such luck. The movie has a couple teases at times, but no nakedness and no real sexual content. The horror style violence also fails to make use of the R rated freedom, giving us one nice throat slash, but little else. A few scenes of mild violence unfold and a little blood runs at times, but it is never graphic or even memorable. The horror is limited to brief, tame kills and of course, a parade of cheap jump scares. If you’re curious about the R rated designation, given the lack of skin and gore, Friend Request has a few f-bombs, which is the sole reason it was rated as such. The dialogue is serious and the movie has little in terms of humor, which seems like a poor choice. Given how dull the movie is, perhaps a streak of dark humor could have worked wonders. Instead, we have serious dialogue and while that isn’t a bad thing, the writing here is weak and gives us little reason to be reeled into the serious tone. In terms of craziness, no dice in this case, as again the movie is serious and never veers off the predictable teen horror path. I wish it was a little wilder or put the R rating to better use, but it is what it is. It is a little crazy to see so many young people using Facebook, however.
Overall Insanity: 0/10