New Horror Releases: Friend Request (2016) - Reviewed


As if social media weren't scary enough, now we're getting a steady stream of scary movies that are using our technological advances to tell tales of evil. Centered on a university student's use of a Facebook type app and her friendship with a emotionally damaged student, Friend Request isn't a total abomination but doesn't ever find a steady footing. Each time the movie seems like it's going to do something new or interesting, it falls back on standard tropes that pull it back down into a shallow grave of mediocrity and mild boredom. 

The last couple years, the horror genre has seen a mass influx of excellent new directors and features which have reinvigorated a tired style of filmmaking with interesting and new ideas. And we've also seen the opposite end of the spectrum where directors or creative minds ultimately fail in their attempts to blend and mix previous horror entries into abysmal and uncomfortable movies like Friend Request. Cashing in on social networking trends, the minor successes of Unfriended, obvious visual nods to the Japanese haunting tributes which have filled cineplexes since The Ring was released, this is an uninspired low budget flick that features some of the most annoying musical cues I've ever heard. 

With predictable jump scares, almost no gore, thirty year old women playing college students, and a depressed Hot Topic goth ghoul straight out of a My Chemical Romance concert from ten years ago, Friend Request is the reason most horror flicks fail miserably. It's uncomfortable to watch at times and never uses its main actor to her full potential. Alycia Debman-Carey from Fear the Walking Dead plays the main character and literally stumbles from scene to scene trying to carry the weight of poor scripting and dead dialogue. Sadly for her, her support players are unnatural, wooden and belong nowhere near a feature length film. They're all amateur at best. 

Now that we've set the negative aside, one thing does bring this otherwise soulless venture from the brink of death. Some of the visual elements are great to look at. Animated and computer generated imagery which is a core part of the social media aspect of the story is just enough to set this apart and give it some watchability. Cool looking black and white environments with a brooding sense of death and fear round out Friend Request, bringing it just above board from remedial horror to a mildly acceptable viewing. 

Damn. I can't believe how much Fear the Walking Dead sucks. 

If you're a die hard horror junky like myself, you'll have REAL problems with Friend Request. If you're just looking for something to kill the time, this will fill a void. Don't expect anything new and think you're going to be blown away. Put on some dark purple lipstick, paint your fingernails black, throw on a hoodie, make sure you're depressed, then watch this movie with a cup of coffee while you cry over nothing. But make sure you hate your parents first. 

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