ere’s a theory about this German (but English language) production you can totally disregard: the original draft of the screenplay was heavy with commentary on the perils of social media addiction but as it went through machine of pre-production, and rewrites and rewrites were imposed, this originality was pushed into the background and the by-the-numbers shlocky bits come to the fore. It’s a shame too because there’s a kernel of a decent horror here.
opular college student Laura (Danford) spends most of her time perusing Facebook, her profile page boasting upwards of – gasp! -eight hundred friends. She even accepts the friend request from lonely Marina (Ahlers), the troubled girl with the heavy mascara in the hoodie who sits alone at lunch. Marina – gasp! – has zero friends on Facebook and her page is riddled with disturbing art.
hen she comes on a little strong, posting on every picture Laura has uploaded and bombarding her with messages, Laura distances herself from Marina, eventually unfriending her. Bad mistake: Marina commits suicide in a gruesome fashion, films it, and uploads it to Laura’s page, causing her to – gasp! - lose friends. Then Laura’s friends’ pages are ‘infected’ and they are offed one by one in increasingly horrific ways…
riend Request goes out of its way to avoid following through on the interesting questions it has about its subject. Sure, it raises a few points – the irony of isolation in the era of social media, Laura’s lecturer drones on about ‘internet obsession disorder’ and the entire enterprise hints that it’s an allegory for the dangers of devoting one’s life to Facebook and such – but none of this is ever explored to any great degree. And it doesn’t know what’s scarier: being stung to death by killer black wasps or losing friends on social media. The constant updates of Laura’s friend counter as it plummets over time seem to suggest the latter.
aura is a non-entity – as the end credits role there’s very little we know about her beyond she’s nice and spends too much time online – while Uber Goth Marina’s psychological troubles are overcooked. If she is this disturbed, her behaviour would have been flagged earlier than this; there’s nothing about her burgeoning friendship with Laura (they meet once) to suggest that the unfriending is the slap in the face that drives her over the edge.
est not accept this friend request.
- Director Simon Verhoeven
- Actors Alycia Debnam Carey, Connor Paolo, William Moseley
- Genre Horror, Thriller
- Running Time 92 mins
- Release Date Friday 22nd April 2016