Horror movies always try to latch onto modern technology to make it scary. They made horror movies about VHS, electricity/TV signals, video games, the internet itself and now social media with Friend Request following the likes of Unfriended. Anyone remember the computer address book horror movie Ghost in the Machine? Terrifying.
Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey) makes the mistake of accepting a friend request from Marina Mills (Leisl Ahlers). Marina gets clingy and when Laura unfriends her, Marina kills herself and possesses Laura’s Facebook page, posting graphic videos of her own and other deaths. Poor Marina had zero friends on her Ma Rina account. If she’d used MySpace she’d at least have Tom.
I will give Friend Request credit for understanding how Facebook works better than other horror movies understand their technology. Feardotcom didn’t even know how URLs work (they don’t spell out “dotcom” and still add .com for Christ’s sake!) Friend Request knows how someone like Laura would try to respond to what seems like a hack at first. The supernatural force prohibiting her from defriending or even deleting her account seems like technical glitches at first.
The declining friend counter that follows Laura on screen in non-computer scenes makes a joke out of what’s supposed to be serious. Yeah, her 800+ friends are disgusted by the snuff videos her account is posting. By the time the friend counter gets into the single digits, you’ve gotta wonder what’s still keeping those 80some friends around. Do they think Laura’s gonna turn this ship around?
None of the writers did the police procedural research though because the two cops investigating Laura haven’t even seen Law & Order apparently. One just says, “We’re looking into everything” when he doesn’t have a real response to some outlandish supernatural accusation. The other comes out and asks, “Any idea where this girl torched herself?” Later, the latter cop points out, “You really know a lot of dead people, Ms. Woodson.” In any event, neither of them are treating this like a hack which would be the most likely scenario if you weren’t aware you were in a horror movie.
I wonder what other cases these cops were on? This couldn’t be their exclusive one. “Are you sure you didn’t steal your own TV, Mrs. Johnson? Maybe you just lost it.” Well, they are homicide cops. Are they? For suicides getting shared on social media? Man, the cop who broke up the party in Dr. Giggles would be disgusted by how shoddy horror movie law enforcement has gotten.
The dialogue among Laura’s friends isn’t any more convincing. Laura and her friends are all psychology students so they can name drop diagnoses and talk about internet addiction disorder. It could be funny when slacker party girl Liv (Brit Morgan) says, “Unfriend that dead bitch” but it doesn’t seem remotely self-aware. These writers could study dialogue like just observe people talking to find out what it actually sounds like. Or watch another movie. Just one movie, any movie.
Bless Debnam-Carey, she commits to material that makes Fear the Walking Dead look like a TV show you would rather watch than this movie. The backstory of Marina might be creepy if it wasn’t tied to the stupid Facebook angle, but probably not. It’s still generic occult imagery, only set to a score that sounds like a European rave.
Marina is no Freddy or Jason. I don’t think she’ll be back in Friend Request 2. The producers of Friend Request didn’t even bother to make a Ma Rina Facebook page. Fail.