By Nathan Ford

One of this year’s biggest horror films is in theaters right now, and IT is not “Friend Request”. Unfortunately, that is the movie I saw this weekend.

“Friend Request” is the newest horror film in a subgenre that heavily deals with social media. It’s known aptly as social media horror. Other films in this subgenre is 2014’s “Unfriended”, which was laughably bad.

Going into this movie, my expectations were quite low. I also did not see any trailers for this movie, which did not bode well. However, I did enjoy some aspects of the film, which is not wonderful, but it held my attention for the duration of the runtime.

The film opens in a college lecture hall, with a professor explaining that one of their classmates committed suicide. The camera focuses on our main character, Laura, who looks visibly shaken, especially when the professor asks if the girl had any friends. Laura had previously been friendly with the girl until she began stalking Laura.

The scene then fades out and text reads “Two Weeks Earlier”. Normally this is done to create tension, but in “Friend Request”, we see the movie’s big reveal and then jump back in time for the exposition and setup. This decision to start in the middle is strange and will jar the viewer. It was such a baffling choice to me that it was almost funny.

When the two weeks of exposition is finally given, it takes place primarily through Laura’s Facebook account. This is like scrolling through a really generic stranger’s Facebook feed; you learn the most basic information about Laura, and it is boring. This is easily the worst part of the film, and considering it takes place at the very beginning, I would not be surprised if people stopped watching. In fact, two people walked out of the screening during this part, and considering how much of the total runtime this Facebook exposition takes up, I am surprised the movie was able to hold my attention.

Laura eventually adds her classmate Marina, and Marina’s feed looks like it’s straight out of a creepy Tumblr account that I would have had in middle school. Her feed is primarily creepy art and photos, and while her art is pretty, it is used repetitively throughout the film to the point of it being annoying. Her artwork is not even very creepy. It is mostly just dark paintings of bugs and houses, which is why I would have eaten it up in middle school.

I might be talking about Facebook feeds a little too much, but then again, so does the film. It really focuses on Facebook and gets a little too preachy about internet addiction and other effects of social media. To make matters even worse, the film doesn’t say much at all. It barely scratches the surface of the topic without ever committing to a message.

After the exposition finishes, the scary stuff begins. I won’t go into detail, but the film lacks surprises in how it starts the horror. That being said, a majority of the death scenes are actually creepy and are by far the best part of the movie. I wanted to keep watching entirely to see the next death that happens, and it really kept me engaged in the film.

That being said, the ending is really, really bad. Without spoiling anything, the movie largely contradicts itself for no reason beyond trying to have a cool ending, and it falls flat.

Overall, “Friend Request” is not very good, but it does perform better than other movies in the social media horror subgenre. It just isn’t a very good subgenre in the first place. Despite this, the film has its moments, even if they are not very original.

Overall, I give “Friend Request” a 4/10 and would only recommend it to horror fans who want to give something new a shot.      

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