Friend Request was completed in March of 2014 and is finally seeing its theatrical release from German director Simon Verhoeven. This has a been a trend lately with smaller companies as they can’t get their films out to the general audiences. Earlier this year, Halle Berry starred in Kidnap which was completed a few years ago but didn’t see a release date until August of this year. Friend Request follows a young college student named Laura who has a lot of friends on Facebook and is very popular in real life. She accepts a friend request from a lonely girl name Marina who has zero friends on Facebook. At first Marina appears as just a lonely girl who is looking for a friend but it quickly escalates into an obsession that results in Marina taking her own life when Laura unfriends her. After Marina’s death, Laura begins to lose control of her Facebook as videos of her friends being killed appear on her timeline. This leads to many people cutting Laura out of their lives as she desperately tries to solve the mystery of Marina’s ghost haunting her Facebook page and killing off her friends one by one.
When I first heard about this movie, I was admittedly put off as it seemed to borrow everything from 2014’s Unfriended. Friend Request looked like it wasn’t trying anything new and that is how I felt when leaving the movie. IT borrows a lot of clichés from supernatural possession horror films and really doesn’t try to branch out or be anything else. It’s a very familiar storyline about a group of teenagers getting picked off one by one while the main lead tries to get to the bottom of the haunting.
Friend Request is filled with endless generic jump scares that never follow up with anything to add suspense to the movie. The only time the movie is remotely scary is when the audio is turned all the way up. The brief moments of the deceased Marina show potential for some pretty interesting make up designs. With hardly any truly terrifying scenes, the film lacks any sort of energy but honestly, I would have been fine not having scary moments if the rest of the film was interesting, but unfortunately it was not.
Laura’s mission to find the truth behind Marina’s past was the least exciting aspect of the film. The core of the movie is Laura trying to log out of her Facebook account which is being controlled by Marina. Every so often a friend of Laura gets a friend request from Marina and that signals that they will die. The video of them dying is posted to Laura’s timeline which affects her relationship with her family and friends. I honestly didn’t care about what happened to Laura and her timeline, and none of the characters in The Gallows is a tight, tense found footage thriller were relatable.
I did feel sympathy for the character of Marina and they present her in a light that makes her almost likable at the beginning. She just wanted a friend but didn’t know how to approach the friendship and it quickly turned into an obsession that leads to her own death. Unfortunately, her scenes are only about 20 minutes of the movie and the rest of it is just generic. The personalities of the college students don’t make them standouts in my eye. None of them scream memorable characters and even their deaths feel done before.
Friend Request doesn’t answer any of its own questions and leaves the viewers more confused than when they started. I was hoping that the movie would solve the mystery of the haunted Facebook timeline but the creators felt it wasn’t necessary to provide any real answers. It’s really a bummer when you’re watching a film and the creators don’t even care enough about their own story and end it with very minimal effort.
Friend Request was a lazy attempt at an intriguing plot that has been done before. By not solving their own issues, I felt no satisfaction after watching this film. The only good take away was the sympathy I felt for Marina but the lack of a strong storyline and effective scares led to yet another poor excuse for a horror film.
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Friend Request runs 1 hour 32 minutes and is rated R for horror violence, disturbing images, and language.