Friend Request

Review by Adam Chapman

Directed by

Simon Verhoeven

Starring

Alycia Debnam-Carey Connor Paolo William Moseley

Anticipation.

For anyone with a Facebook account, this could be uncomfortably close to home.

Enjoyment.

[Insert shrugging emoji]

In Retrospect.

Trades originality for tired tropes.

Simon Verhoeven’s supernatural thriller explores the ramifications of constantly staying connected.

If there’s a cautionary tale buried somewhere in Simon Verhoeven’s film, it’s that you should never accept a stranger’s seemingly platonic advances. College student Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) finds this out the hard way after becoming “friends” with social outcast Marina (Liesl Ahlers), much to the dismay of her clique. After a bizarre confrontation, Laura realises she should have judged the book by its cover.

Friend Request is full of internetisms, from our hapless protagonist declaring “she’s trying to FaceTime me, what do we do?” to on-screen notifications alerting us to the fact that her Facebook fan base is diminishing due to some vague curse. Is this visual metaphor supposed to mock the misplaced priorities of millennials? The intention is unclear.

Verhoeven tries to elicit cheap scares with tongue-in-cheek twists and various shock tactics, but it’s a heavy-handed job. It’s a shame, because while social media is increasingly coming under the microscope for engendering insecurity among young people, cinema is yet to deliver a truly chilling meditation on its insidious impact.

Published 18 Apr 2016

Tags: Facebook Social media

Anticipation.

For anyone with a Facebook account, this could be uncomfortably close to home.

Enjoyment.

[Insert shrugging emoji]

In Retrospect.

Trades originality for tired tropes.

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