"Demonic Presence Stalks Members of the Look at Me Generation"
Inaction on the part of individuals and social institutions rupture the world, causing the proliferation of many different manifestations of evil. FRIEND REQUEST is an American horror movie with a modern twist on the fear of loneliness and connectedness. It takes a long look at the technological matrix to which society seems addicted via social media. Violent in many places and devoid of a moral compass, the movie is a bleak exploration of the nature of humanity in the face of such evil and often flirts with crass exploitation.
FRIEND REQUEST tells the story of Laura, a typical college sophomore, enmeshed in relationships with close friends and family. Laura is outgoing, a social butterfly with several hundred friends in her social network. When she encounters Marina, a mysterious outcast from her psychology class, she begins to investigate her social media profile. Intrigued by pictures on Marina’s profile page and moved by sympathy for her loneliness, she accepts Marina’s friend request.
With this decision, Marina begins to invade every area of Laura’s life. She tries to insert herself into Laura’s group of friends. Marina stalks Laura’s time, trying to monopolize her time. Scared and wigged out by Marina’s co-dependent attachment, and at the behest of her close friends, Laura unfriends Marina. This decision only propels Marina further down the path of despair, causing her to lash out.
Marina tries to make Laura as lonely as she is through her suicide. After this, things spiral out of control for Laura as a demonic presence stalks her and her friends, blurring the lines between the natural and supernatural.
FRIEND REQUEST does many things well. The visual effects and makeup are top notch. The music and sound design create a mood palate that pairs with the story. The camera work and editing, as well as the set design, create a world in which this particular form of possession seems rather real. It succeeds in creating an atmosphere of fear, where the unknown houses evil just beyond the edges of light.
FRIEND REQUEST succeeds in raising questions about the dependency on social media. This leads to a subtle question about narcissism and the ills of society’s technological social networks. Where does responsibility lie in the look at me generation? The answers to these questions get lost in the tropes of a horror movie, but the questions remain just beneath the surface.
The world of FRIEND REQUEST is graphically violent. It’s dark and lacks any signs of grace. It is a world where radical evil lurks in the darkness. The evil of witchcraft exists, and there is seemingly no way to defeat it. The movie doesn’t glorify witchcraft, yet it leaves it open as an avenue to exact revenge on those who have wronged you. Worse and perhaps even more insidious is the evils of narcissism and being possessed by the wrong things. Each character is flawed from the outset. There’s no higher purpose to life outside of sharing events with one’s family and friends. This purpose of life leads to a flattened worldview in terms of right and wrong and the meaning behind life. Perhaps that is the insidious danger to social media; turning the mirror of reality upon oneself.
Because of the movie’s graphic violence, foul language and depiction of mythologized occult practices, MOVIEGUIDE® suggests FRIEND REQUEST is unacceptable viewing. Only those who are drawn to the macabre or enjoy the thrill of being scared sill be interested in seeing FRIEND REQUEST.
(PaPaPa, OOO, B, LLL, VVV, S, NN, AA, DD, MM) Very strong pagan worldview based on some form of implied hedonism, the pursuit of individual happiness, right and wrong determined by the individual with influence from one’s social group, the meaning of life is determined by sensual pleasures, material possessions and social status with strong occult elements involving demonic possession via witchcraft, possession through mirrors, triumph of an evil spirit in the face of a cross, and the possessive nature of images, mitigated by some thoughtful content rightly questioning modern narcissism and young people’s obsession with social media; about 27 obscenities (about half are “f” words), nine strong profanities using the name of Jesus Christ, five light profanities and a male jokes he’s “on his period”; graphic portrayals of violence includes on screen deaths. repeated head bludgeoning on an elevator wall, on screen portrayal of slitting one’s throat, suicide by gunshot wound to the head, stabbing in the neck, stabbing of the abdomen, death by a swarm of wasps, suicide by hanging, and burning; several instances of implied fornication; nude drawing of a woman hanging on the wall; several instances of implied drunkenness, opening montage of parties with friends involving alcoholic drinks, pictures of friends being intoxicated; , an older woman smokes a cigarette, and smoking recreational drugs in woman’s apartment; and, one instance of lying to the police, breaking into a crime scene, lack of empathy for the socially marginalized, and attempted murder for self-preservation.
FRIEND REQUEST is a horror tale about the self-inflicted wounds of narcissism and convenience. Laura, her boyfriend and their four friends find their lives being torn apart by the mysterious Marina. Unable to unfriend her and delete their social media profiles, each person is vulnerable to unwanted vicious attacks. The attacks are summoned at the behest of Marina and forces of unknown evil, through witchcraft. Things spiral out of control as a demonic presence stalks Laura and her friends
FRIEND REQUEST entertains in all the traditional ways expected of a horror movie. The many different production elements are artistically executed. The movie’s failure is in its depiction of evil unchecked. The story is very bleak. Also, evil in the form of witchcraft seems unstoppable. Revenge and self-preservation are high virtues for many characters in this movie. There is a genuine care among Laura and her friends, but it lacks any grounding beyond itself. Thus, no higher good is referenced or mentioned. FRIEND REQUEST also contains graphic violence and strong foul language. So, it’s not appropriate viewing for any moviegoer or potential viewer.