Laura is a popular girl in high school, with lots of likes and friends on Facebook. She meets Marina, a new girl at school who’s an outcast with no friends. She feels sorry for her, and decides to befriend her online. What was originally supposed to be a good deed towards someone she felt pity for, soon turns into something darker as Marina becomes obsessive over her new “friendship”. Marina starts sending tons of messages if Laura doesn’t reply within minutes, and very much acts like a creepy stalker. Laura tries to convince herself that Marina is just lonely and desperate for a friend, but in the end it gets too much for her and she decides to unfriend her on Facebook. And that is when all hell breaks loose…
“Friend Request” is what you could probably call a modern-day horror movie, especially nowadays when social media is something a lot of people feel very attached to, and often use it to compare themselves to others: always a hunt for more likes, more followers, more “friends”. Laura is depicted as the “normal” girl of modern times: socially competent at school, and a personality and looks that automatically brings in both likes and followers on Facebook. Marina, on the other hand, is that classic “creepy girl” dressed in black who is socially awkward, and on top of that she is making moody and dark illustrations. Their “friendship” is something that’s not prone to survive, and yes – we’ve seen that story before. But that doesn’t mean it’s not exciting, and the performances by both Liesl Ahlers (Marina) and Alycia Debnam-Carey (Laura) makes the story believable and thrilling.
The illustrations by “Marina” adds a great additional tone to the movie, as they also include a bit of animation and works to set a certain understanding of Marina’s mindset, and the supernatural occurrences that’s caused by her. The movie also provides a back-story for Marina, which explains a bit about her behaviour. The movie does have a fair amount of suspense and even some decent scares, and the social-media theme is not such a large part of the plot that those of us that doesn’t use Facebook (yes! There’s still some of us left!) won’t feel estranged from the story. The ending, albeit a little predictable, is kind of interesting as well.
Director: Simon Verhoeven
Country & year: Germany | USA, 2016
Actors: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Sean Marquette, Liesl Ahlers, Shashawnee Hall, Susan Danford, Lee Raviv, Nicholas Pauling, David Butler, Julian Katz, Kiano Janse van Rensburg, Dorothy Ann Gould