Friend Request does nothing the least bit revolutionary, but has a smattering of fresh ideas to escape immediate relegation to the bottom of the new-horror queue.
A bunch of forgettable young television actors play a group of “typical” college students, whose fake Facebook pages are being haunted by the school outcast, Marina (Liesl Ahlers), who committed suicide after being unfriended by the nice girl, Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey, “Fear the Walking Dead”). Now, her group of friends is being picked off one by one, but at least they have a magic computer pal (Connor Paolo, who may be remembered from “Gossip Girl”) to check the code and do a Google Image search.
The flick’s weak script fails to actuate the intriguing social media angle and features the sort of dialogue that exemplifies the conversations adults think college students have. What Friend Request does that’s new is offer brief animated, horror sequences posted on Marina’s Fakebook page. Director Simon Verhoeven at least deserves some credit for an animated innovation that should not have taken a horror filmmaker so long to use. Gary Go and Martin Todsharow’s atypical horror score stands out, as well.
Despite a multitude of flaws, Friend Request provides the small joys expected of a so-bad-it’s-silly horror flick, even if the jump scares barely nudge the audience. Social media horror is a fertile new subgenre—horror has long been obsessed with new technology—and Friend Request should not end up its worst exemplar. Still, it’s no Unfriended.