★★ out of ★★★★★ There is no thumbs-up icon for this clichéd slog about a ghost girl on a warpath.
Nobody wants to be friends with Marina and who can blame them? She’s doing the Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club thing with hoodie-covered head, darting nervous glances, and odd mannerisms. She doesn’t even have one Facebook friend! Feeling sorry for the girl, protagonist Laura adds her after scrolling approvingly over Marina’s morbid death-obsessed timeline. Soon, the freaky goth girl is obsessing and Laura decides to cut ties (though only after receiving prodding from her friends because Laura is a good girl who would never do something self-preserving without peer pressure). Then a video surfaces on the school website showing Marina committing suicide and spooky shits starts to go down.
Friend Request is cringe-worthy, not because of excessive gore, but because you kind of feel sorry for the people that made it. It’s like watching a co-worker fail at karaoke with absolutely no self-awareness that they’re doing so. First off, Marina’s suicide. The police talk to Laura about the suicide, suspecting that she may have had something to do with it. It’s revealed that nobody was found and that Marina wasn’t even enrolled at the school. The cops never consider that the video is faked. They seem less concerned with finding out where Marina’s dorm room payments were coming from than they are with making sure that the snuff film doesn’t keep circulating around those wholesome college Facebook timelines. You’d think they’d want to actually verify that a student had died, right? Well, the dean of the school is not taking this potentially faked murder of a possibly non-existent student lying down! She demands that Laura stop posting snuff films or else she’ll shut down her Facebook account! Bad Laura! You get the timeout corner.
Of course, Ally Sheedy ghost girl starts offing Laura’s friends so that she’ll really know what loneliness is like. A female friend is in the shower. Uh-oh, female friend, don’t you know you shouldn’t be naked in a horror film? And what about a chubby female friend? Her clothes are on, so she’s probably fine. No, wait, her toenails are painted red. Dammit chubby female friend, you can’t have red toenails! I hovered my mouse over the Netflix bar – Christ, not even halfway through.
The (unintentionally) best moment in the film is when our resident hacker uncovers that the dead girl’s Facebook page isn’t constructed with code at all! It’s supernatural spooky code! And it glows Matrixy green for some reason too! The second half just devolves into The Ring investigations. Maybe if they find out about Marina’s fucked up childhood, they can fix everything! *cue my hungry zombie groan*
Friend Request is boring and it has holes and it’s cliche. At least Unfriended had some fun death sequences. You know it’s a bad sign when a movie fails to live up to Unfriended’s bar.
Friend request is directed by Simon Verhoeven, and is Rated R. It is currently available for rent on Amazon Prime.