I'm a freelance writer living in Perth, Western Australia.
Published March 2nd 2017
Social Media and the Supernatural just don't mix
Friend Request is a brilliant, modern supernatural-psychological horror film, with a scary story, which touches on the themes of internet addiction and social media.
Social Media is a scary place
Expertly directed by Simon Verhoeven (Men in the City & The Miracle of Bern), who co-wrote the film with Matthew Ballen (I Am Root Beer & Boys Don't Cry) and Philip Koch (Picco & Outside the Box), the film tells the story of Laura, played by Alycia Debnam-Carey (Into The Storm & Fear The Walking Dead), who is one of the most popular girls at her college and has a very large circle of friends, both online and in the real world.
One day, whilst in the cafeteria with her friends, Laura begins to notice a loner girl named Ma Rina, played by Liesl Ahlers (The Challenger & Inside Job), from her psych class and is surprised to find a friend request from her that night . What is even more surprising is that Ma Rina has 0 friends listed on her page.
Would you accept this friend request?
Ma Rina's social media page is an absolute highlight of the film, as it contains stunning images and incredible animated scenes, which are so well made, that I'd love to see a feature-length film by the animators.
Not long after becoming online friends, Ma Rina becomes a little bit obsessed with her new found friendship with Laura and ends up commenting on absolutely everything she has ever posted online and even invites herself to Laura's birthday party. After quite a bit of peer pressure from some of her friends, Laura lies to Ma Rina, telling her it was just going to be her and her boyfriend, but soon the photos from the party get uploaded to the internet and poor Ma Rina is left absolutely distraught by the whole ordeal.
I truly felt sorry for Ma Rina, as she truly represents the part in all of us, which just wants to fit in with our peers and for anyone who was ever been bullied in their life, she is a highly relatable character.
After a showdown in front of the entire class, which makes Laura delete her new friend, Ma Rina takes her own life, in front of a live internet stream, which is disturbingly reminiscent of many cases involving real life people. Laura begins to get messages from her dead friend's profile, while her social media page seemingly takes on a life of its own, by posting horrible things about Ma Rina and her other friends and she soon finds her friends list on a rapid decline, not just online, but in real life too, as her closest friends start dying in terrible ways, just after their profiles suddenly become friends with Ma Rina's.
Laura enlists the help of her computer wiz friend Kobe, played by Connor Paolo (Mystic River & World Trade Centre) and soon finds out that the code used to make Ma Rina's page is made up of some sort of magical language, which shouldn't be possible and she soon finds herself fighting for her friends and her life to break the curse that has been set upon her. But it could already be too late?
This is much more than just a horror film about the internet, as it really delves into the serious consequences which come with every decision we make online and truly shows that what you see on the screen can affect people in real life.
As a massive fan of horror films, who has been disappointed by a lot of "modern" horror of late, I found this film to be surprisingly refreshing and highly relatable in many ways.
Friend Request is rated MA and is recommended for those 15 years and older, as it contains strong supernatural threats, gore and strong language.