31 Days Of Horror: “Friend Request” Sheds the Stereotypes Of the Social Media Horror Films





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Posted October 4, 2016 by

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From the description of “Friend Request” (a college girl finds her friends getting killed off by a demonic presence when she ends up deleting a girl she barely knows on Facebook) this is a movie I should not have liked in any way. Fortunately, that was not the case as screenwriters Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch keep their story tight throughout and don’t fall into the typical stereotypes you usually find with these kind of horror movies: characters that are so completely shallow you can’t wait until they get killed off, an over-preachy vibe on how dangerous social media is and how it’s taking over our lives, etc. On top of that, director Simon Verhoeven subtly slips in creepy imagery and allows the scene to build the tension instead of trying to just jump right into the scary parts. The overall feel of the movie is dark, ominous, and unsettling. While the demonic presence and the main characters are the focal point of the movie, Verhoeven also allows his setting to add to the creepiness.

While the characters, every once in a while, slip into that annoying mode where I found myself ready for their character to be killed off, they immediately brought it back a couple of steps and actually became likable and believable. Lead actress Alycia Debnam-Carey who plays Laura does a great job in this movie and could be poised to become the new “it girl” for studio horror films; she’s already proven that she can choose a role that may seem cliche on the page but then elevate it with a strong performance. Liesl Ahlers who plays Marina — the ‘villain’ of the movie, so to speak– also does an amazing job at being the overbearing, stalker-ish character without trying to make it something more than the character is. She plays it in a very subdued manner that makes it so much more realistic and memorable.

My main problem with this movie, and really my only problem with it, is that a lot of the jumps and scares come from loud noises happening out of nowhere and that is one of the cheapest tricks in the book. What is otherwise a movie that made me uncomfortable in a good way really let me down when they tried to up the terror level by cheating me with the “scary moments”. I’m not going to lie or pretend I’m way cooler than I am, these scenes definitely made me jump, but then they just angered me because they’re the one thing that kept this from being a really good horror film.

Demonic possessions, black mirrors, self-inflicted wounds, creepy imagery, and an ominous setting make this a movie that’s easy for me to recommend. Director Simon Verhoeven and screenwriters Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch seem to have, for the moment, figured out the recipe for making a studio horror film that’s also palatable for the die-hard genre fans. If they can find out how to scare the audience without the cheap tricks, they have the ability to make some very interesting horror movies in the future.


“Friend Request” hits theaters November 18th, 2016. 




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