Director: Simon Verhoeven
Cast: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo
Release Date: January 9, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 4/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
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.
‘Friend Request’ follows young and fairly popular college girl Laura (Debnam-Carey) who accepts an online friend request from her quiet and unpopular classmate Marina (Ahlers) largely out of pity and soon finds herself being stalked by the mysterious girl whose disturbing posts begin to make Laura question her decision to accept the girl into her life, even digitally. But when the a desperate move by the girl sets a terrifying curse in motion, Laura and those closest to her soon find themselves being eliminated in peculiar ways. Unable to remove the girl from her friend list or even delete her account, she sets out in the hope of finding a way to stop the carnage before she loses everyone she cares about as a result of this seemingly unstoppable digital curse.
Directed by German director (and actor) Simon Verhoeven (Men In The City) from a screenplay he additionally co-wrote along with Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch, Verhoeven does a fairly capable job at the helm of ‘Friend Request’ although never seems quite able to find the proper pacing and tone. The film owes some real credit to the cast which is comprised of some capable talent including Alycia Debnam-Carey (TV’s Fear The Walking Dead), William Moseley (TV’s The Royals), Connor Paolo (Stake Land), Brit Morgan (TV’s Supergirl), Brooke Markham (TV’s Foursome), Sean Marquette (TV’s The Goldbergs), Liesl Ahlers (The Challenger Disaster), Shashawnee Hall (TV’s Justified) and more who each deliver overall capable and fitting performances in each of their respective roles.
‘Friend Request’ is somewhat of a mixed bag of a horror movie; on one hand it manages to serve up a generally entertaining tale with some mildly creepy and occasionally quite gory moments to mildly appease the horror fans, but it also has plenty of problems, namely the painfully silly vibe it gives off without ever appearing to do so intentionally, along with a somewhat bumpy path that never allows the story to feel as if its flowing organically but instead always somewhat struggling to find itself. Odds are it’s not likely that you’ll delete your Facebook account in fear after watching to say the least, and perhaps it’s simply me but I don’t see the utter terror in the quantity of your Facebook friends dwindling at least a bit, certainly not to the degree of dread in which the on-screen counter in the film seems to imply. Director Simon Verhoeven does a decent enough job guiding the tale along and the cast is probably the film’s high point with the majority delivering pretty solid performances all around, especially by horror movie standards. Albeit decent in some aspects, ‘Friend Request’ largely falls short and never really evolves beyond a generic and uninventive horror flick without much new to offer and a somewhat sloppy pattern and tone in what it does provide. I honestly can’t urge most folks to make a point of seeing ‘Friend Request’ and while it has its moments and is entertaining enough for the most part, it’s a pretty disappointing film overall. It may be worth your time on a lazy afternoon in which it’s easily accessible but it’s also probably unnecessary to make a point of doing so unless you’ve already been truly looking forward to it. It’s not an utterly terrible horror flick, nor is it really the slightest bit memorable.
Overall, ‘Friend Request’ is largely disappointing and even while managing to deliver a few solid moments and ideas, along with some decent deaths, its struggle to find a smooth pacing and tone, as well as the seemingly unintended cheesiness it exudes can’t be ignored and overwhelm much of the positive; altogether keeping it from ever becoming more than mediocre at best. Unless you’re already highly intrigued and planning to check it out immediately, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to watch ‘Friend Request’. It has its positive aspects and offers some mildly creepy moments combined with a few decent turns, but as a whole disappoints in most regards. Genre fans may want to give it a whirl at some point if it becomes available on your favorite premium channel or streaming provider, but it probably isn’t worth going to too much effort over.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Friend Request’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.35:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and offers a clean, sharp and detailed presentation with little to no noticeable faults to be uncovered throughout. It holds up admirably even during the notably dark sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a solid high definition video presentation that shouldn’t have any trouble satisfying fans of the film and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a sharp, clean and at times fairly aggressive audio presentation. It consistently takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send music, eerie sound effects, crowd chatter and more regularly throughout the various speakers when fitting, and never allowing any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a fantastic 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way and contributes some additional creepiness to the movie.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Friend Request’ includes a single extra; a behind the scenes Featurette ‘Friend Request: The Social Nightmare’ (running approximately 11 minutes in length) which includes some behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast and crew.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.
Film Rating: 4/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
‘Friend Request’ is Now Available to Own on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Entertainment Studios & Lionsgate Home Entertainment