Friend Request: The Only Ones in the Theater… and Now We Know Why.


By Patrick Kearney & Jackson Volenec

Friend Request is the new addition to the now sizable collection of horror films that demonize modern technology. Some other examples of said genre are Feardotcom, Stay Alive and Unfriended – each of these films fail at what they’re trying to accomplish. These films are often times laughably ignorant of why we as people use technology, how technology works, and even what really makes a horror film scary.


Friend Request tells of a college student named Laura, who has over 800 friends on Facebook, and inversely Marina, a girl who has none. Out of the goodness of her heart, Laura decides to send Marina a friend request and is shocked when Marina expects to be treated like an actual friend. The two’s relationship quickly gets strained, with Marina messaging Laura far more than anyone should. Not to mention, Laura tells Marina she isn’t having a birthday party and then proceeds to post pictures of said birthday party on Facebook. Marina feels rejected, and kills herself.


This bizarre premise is laid out without a touch of irony, and its dull message isn’t lost on anyone. Friend Request won’t make moviegoers scratch their head, despite it being so convinced of its own earnestness. The film is a goofy mess; however, many horror films in the modern era forgo major film archetypes in favor of scares.


Yet this still isn’t the case for this film, as magical symbols found on Facebook pages and paranormal activity-style invisible “ghosts” are just not scary. These attempts at spooking the audience are in fact so flagrantly not scary that they come off as humorous. Scenes that are clearly intended to build atmosphere just end up falling flat – one such scene being where one of the main characters feels something “off”, and pulls a bee out of their ear. For a horror film, this is just gratuitous and awkward; and the scene has no emotional payoff.


Now, it’s worth mentioning that there is truly quite a bit of potential in a film portraying what is in fact scary about the internet: stalkers, hate, even the “darknet”. These are the sort of aspects that never get brought up when criticising the masses’ use of the internet and, in truth, would make for an interesting film. Even aspects from Friend Request itself had potential. For example, the filmmakers could have portrayed Laura’s “friends” as more superficial, with Marina’s actual person-to-person meetings being a way to make the viewer think. Her “real” friends clearly didn’t care about her, when, in the end, Marina did. This much would have made the film far deeper than just a flick one goes to in order to get a good laugh.

Nonetheless, Friend Request lacks in just about every regard. The feeling of confusion the viewer will get at the start of the film never leaves, and if one is looking for a cheap scare – look elsewhere. We give this film a two out of ten.