Friend Request (2016)

A woman’s regretful action is set to cost her dearly in this supernatural horror film that could serve as a double feature with Unfriended or any movie involving the terrors of the Internet.

Laura Woodson is a popular girl on campus. She has done so much volunteer work and is an aspiring psychiatrist who is in a relationship with medical student Tyler McCormick. Her close group of friends include best friends Isabel and Olivia and Isabella’s boyfriend Gustavo. One day, Laura sees Marina, a mysterious student in her class. When Laura discover’s Marina’s social media page, she learns Marina has zero friends and Laura sends a friend request.

Marina and Laura soon chat but Marina soon becomes a bit obsessed with Laura. When Marina confronts Laura for lying to her about her birthday plans, an argument results in Marina being embarrassed and soon enough, word has gotten out she had committed suicide. Laura feels bad for what had happened, but Laura discovers something shocking. She finds her social media page “hacked” by a mysterious presence, one which posts Marina’s suicide video and Laura soon finds the people who befriended her slowly begin to turn on her. To make matters worse, her inner circle soon begins to be picked off one by one. Is it Marina coming back from the dead to seek revenge? Laura intends to find out.

When Unfriended came out in 2014, it set a new subgenre of the horror film. What if the Internet was seen as a villainous force via a ghost? While VHS cassettes and phones were used as supernatural catalysts, this film set a new subgenre and two years later, we are treated to social media used as a supernatural entity that unlike Unfriended, takes place not in a chat room but more a straightforward fashion that begins with a flashback.

Alycia Debnam-Carey does a pretty good job as a scream queen in the form of popular girl Laura. She goes from having it all and in a matter of time, see her popularity dwindle thanks to the supernatural force that haunts her and her inner circle. Riverdale’s Brit Morgan gives the toughness in the role of Olivia, Laura’s headstrong best friend with Brooke Markham and the more level-headed Isabel. The Chronicles of Narnia alum William Moseley plays Laura’s boyfriend Tyler, who does care for her until he learns she is getting help from techie Kobe, played by Connor Paolo, leading to some dissention in their relationship but he does remain loyal throughout the film.

However, the big surprise of the film is the character of Marina. Played by an unrecognizable Liesl Ahlers of the recently released Triggered, Marina is a character who just wants to be accepted and is looking for a friend. She does seem desperate which leads to a sort of obsession that makes Laura uncomfortable. When we learn of her fate and the events that transpire, it’s pretty clear who is responsible and the film also adds a Shining-like element to things when it comes to deaths of Laura’s inner circle. It’s quite insane at times and seeing Ahlers in undead form brings the jump scares.

Friend Request is actually pretty good, meshing Unfriended with elements of The Shining and The Ring if you will. A great performance by Liesl Ahlers as the antagonist and Alycia Debnam-Carey’s potential as a millennial scream queen help drive the film.

WFG RATING: B

Lionsgate and Entertainment Studios Motion Picture presents a Wiedemann and Berg Film production in association with Seven Pictures, Two Oceans Productions and The Exchange. Director: Simon Verhoeven. Producers: Quirin Berg and Max Wiedemann. Writers: Matthew Ballen, Phillip Koch, and Simon Verhoeven. Cinematography: Jo Heim. Editing: Tom Seil and Denis Bachter.

Cast: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo, Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Sean Marquette, Liesl Ahlers, Shashawnee Hall.

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