If there's one notable horror movie that I would use as the dictionary definition example of wasted potential, it would be the 2016 supernatural psychological flick, Friend Request. Released in 2016 around Europe and 2017 in America, the film failed to garnish any notable attention and just swept under the rug with every other forgettable horror movie released in the 2010 decade. However, what does separate it from other generic supernatural flicks is the direction it could have gone had it not chosen the safe route that every other bland horror film does nowadays.The film centers around a popular college student named Laura, who graciously accepts an online friend request from the socially outcast Marina, but once Laura unfriends her, Marina commits suicide. Soon, a disturbing video shows up on Laura's profile, causing her contacts to decrease and her friends to be murdered one by one. Based on that premise alone, the most interesting aspect of the movie would be the relationship between Laura and Marina, with one being a well known popular girl, and the other being a depressed and lonely outcast, albeit with a affinity for the macabre. Given how Laura meant so much to Marina to the point of losing her own mental capacity over a sudden mistake, the film almost highlights how some people are too toxic to be around, even if you want to be nice to them. The film itself could have been a fascinating character study of Marina that would have fleshed out just how unfortunately twisted she became, and to their credit, the filmmakers did try to give some decent exposition to Marina's past at an orphanage which led her down a dark path.However, where the film really wastes its promising concept is in the execution, as it chose to scrap any chance of proper development on Marina in favor of a generic slasher movie arc. Throughout the picture, Laura's friends are murdered one by one in a typical Friday the 13th fashion, with the same old boring jump scares and tired slow moving gimmicks we've come to expect now. Admittedly, the ways the people are killed off are creative in their own way, but the fun is sadly undermined by how weak the whole build up to them are. Plus, the arc of Laura losing friends socially would have been an interesting moment of karma, but even that's sadly undermined from how flat most of the people and even Laura herself are, as we're never given enough time to really care for them enough to feel sorry for them. And without giving away the ending, talk about leaving on an unresolved and frankly pathetic conclusion, as it feels more like the story chose to stop rather than making a satisfying book end to the narrative. When a movie chooses to highlight gimmicks over substance, that's a surefire sign of failure.In the end, while Friend Request had the makings of a potentially interesting character study disguised as a horror movie, it squandered all of that with generic scares, bland characters and a weak ending. Even for a movie that utilizes social communication as a commentary for people's mental health, Facebook no less, it surprisingly has little to do with the "technology that it ostensibly exists to critique" (Jessica Kiang of Variety). If you're going to promote websites like that and twist them around as caution for teens to use, then you should use it to its full advantage, not as plug in gimmicks like how this movie attempts to scare us.
Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey) and her college friends all live online as most everybody else at school. She gets a friend request from fellow student Marina Mills. She notices that Marina has no friends but has created intriguing spooky art. She accepts the friend request and is quickly flooded with Marina's attention. She grows frightened by the nightmarish posts. Marina is angered when Laura fails to invite her to Laura's birthday. Laura decides to unfriend Marina setting off supernatural retributions. The class is told that Marina committed suicide but evidence of her has disappeared.At first, I confused Alycia Debnam-Carey with Taissa Farmiga. It's symptomatic of this movie. It reminds me of bigger and better names. This is a B-movie version of better movies. There are issues holding it back. First, what's up with the boyfriend's apartment? Is he a millionaire? That's some view. For a more serious problem, the movie needs to foreshadow its supernatural bent earlier. I was expecting a more Single White Female situation. Also how do the cops figure out Marina had committed suicide if everything goes missing. And the cops are dumber than dirt. They keep accusing (not accusing) Laura. It's all ridiculously fake. That goes for everybody. I know we roll our eyes when people claim their dick pics are the result of hacking. It doesn't mean that hacking doesn't exist. I can't believe that Kobe is the only person to look into the code and find the witchcraft text. Every college has tech departments. It'd be cool to show this weird coding to computer students and professors. It's all dumber than dirt. There are two good things I got out of the movie. Black Mirror is one of my favorite shows. I figured it's a reference to the blackness of a computer screen but I didn't realize its old origins. Secondly, I got really excited by Kobe's solution to his problem. I hadn't thought of it but it's completely logical. It's a great twist but not nearly enough to save this dumb horror. 2b1af7f3a8