Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is a popular college student who lives her college life to the fullest and gladly shares it with her 800 Facebook friends. But when she accepts a friend request from her mysterious classmate Marina (Liesl Ahlers), she unwittingly sets a terrible curse in motion. The dead girl's impenetrable profile begins to drive Laura into isolation. It takes control of Laura's virtual world and her real life as well. One after another, her closest friends die horrendous deaths, leaving Laura with only a few days to solve the enigma of this haunting curse to save the few friends she has left, as well as her own life.
A relatively new horror trope is the use of social media in the paranormal and monster world. So many people use social media on an hourly basis around the world to give the illusion of community and keeping in touch, that on paper, it would seem like the logical plot device for a decent horror film that involves ghosts, monsters, serial killers or demonic possession. We've seen this before in #Horror and with Unfriended, both of which are not at the top of anyone's playlist. In hopes to make a decent buck off an already used storyline and a cheap budget, this new film Friend Request falls short in most aspects, leaving it a jumbled mess of bad dialogue and terrible plot devices.
Co-written and directed by Simon Verhoeven, with no relation to the Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven (Robocop), the film utilizes some cool imagery with creepy videos that show graphic death or animated hauntings. It's almost like Simon took some ideas from The Ring and used them in his own way in the social media world. None of it turned out well, though. The film centers on a college girl named Laura, who is popular and a relatively nice human being. She is also active on social media, mostly Facebook where she posts about her life.
There is also another girl named Marina, who is in Laura's class, but has no friends in real life or on Facebook. She's goth, shy, but has a penchant for animating creepy videos. Laura and Marina become friends, but only for a short while. When Marina gets mad at Laura for not inviting her to a party, well, Marina commits suicide -- which in turn starts a chain of events of death, demonic possession, ghosts, bullying, and social media posts. Don't worry, you've seen this all play out before.
There is nothing new here or even remotely interesting about the story or characters. In fact, they are all rather annoying. There are storylines that come into play that last a few seconds, but quickly vanish without being explained at all. It seems like it's just one scene of someone walking down a dark, quiet hallway, then BAM - a jump scare, then it's onto the next scene of the same situation with no rhyme or reason.
One thing I would like to applaud here, though, is the use of practical effects. So often, we see CGI blood or CGI monsters. That's not really the case with Friend Request. Most everything is real in the gore department, minus the wasps. Oh yes, about the wasps, the demonic forces like wasps in this movie so much, that they are some of the culprits in the bloody death scenes. It's all quite laughable and not in a good way. Friend Request doesn't do anybody any favors and you're best leaving this one out.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
Friend Request comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate and is Region A Locked. There is an insert for a digital download code here. The disc is housed in an eco-friendly hard, blue plastic case. A couple of trailers play before the main menu.
Friend Request comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. There are a lot of stylistic choices in Friend Request with different filters applied and even black and white sequences. In addition to that, there are some animated moments as well. Colors are a bit muted to give the essence of death and decay with good looking blues, silvers, and dirty greens. Detail usually isn't hindered here as we can see some impressive makeup effects work and gory wounds throughout. Individual hairs and wrinkles on the older characters show up nicely as well. Other scenes that take place outside in the sunlight look heavily saturated with contrast turned up all the way. It even gives a halo effect in certain scenes.
Some of the colors here are bright and bold primaries definitely stand out, particularly the deep red practical blood. The animated sequences look the best with a haunting color scheme that boasts a hypnotic color spectrum. Black levels are mostly deep without any evidence of crush and the skin tones are natural when not in exterior shots. There are no major instances of any compression problems, although there is some slight banding in a couple of scenes. Still, this is a decent video presentation.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and does a decent job with sound effects and a haunting score that provides all the necessary jump scares. There are tons of sound effects in the form of whispers, creepy location noises, and other demonic forces that are all full sounding with some good bass to give the soundtrack some heft. The crescendos from the score when someone is walking down a quiet passageway always startles without sounding shrill.
Other ambient noises of students walking in school or talking outside fill out the surrounds quite nicely. There's also some nice reverb and big room dynamics that echo the actor's voices nicely when available. Dialogue is also clear and easy to follow along with and free of any pops, cracks, and hiss.
Friend Request has some good visuals and animated sequences in it that are quite haunting. The use of practical effects is also commendable here with some great shots of gore. Other than that, the film is a shoddy mess of poor storytelling, tiresome and redundant jump scares, and a plot that goes nowhere. The video and audio presentations are both good enough and the one extra is standard promo reel fluff without anything of real interest being shown. Save your time and money and skip this one.