AKA Unfriend, not to be confused with Unfriended
A cynical piece of social media-propped soft-horror, Friend Request boasts very little in the way of genuine thrills and has zero innovation – with even its Facebook usage feeling outdated.When films like The Shallows deliver visually far better social media interaction as well as genuine thrills, you wonder how features like this get greenlit - let alone see the inside of cinemas. Indeed, although ostensibly boasting an 'original' screenplay, the film - originally called Unfriend (and still going by that title in some foreign territories, including Germany, where it was produced) - bears a striking narrative resemblance to 2014's Unfriended. Both are about strange outcast teen girls seemingly committing suicide after being 'embarrassed' by their peers in a social setting, and then, through the internet.They then plague their oppressors with increasingly horrible retaliations – again seemingly – from beyond the grave. Although largely uncredited, it would appear that the German-produced Friend Request is actually an outright remake of the US-produced Unfriended, however the fact that both are the same story, and both with an English-speaking US cast, leaves the end result painfully familiar. It wasn't a story many people wanted once, let alone twice, but the popularity of the 2014 original somehow sparked enough interest in Germany, so here we are.
German filmmaker Simon Verhoeven – from a filmmaking family, but unrelated to the Dutch Paul Verhoeven – has yet to distinguish himself as a director, with this, his third film, lacking any redeeming features. Almost halfway in and the biggest scare is from a mildly surprising fake cat video that the characters watch on facebook. Everything else is just watered down, lightweight and lacking tension – a horror story walking in the shadow of better films like The Ring and its original Japanese counterpart.
It wasn't a story many people wanted once, let alone twice
Friend Request doesn't really even warrant being included in the horror genre, and would have fared better taking a more psychological approach to the subject matter, with the game but limited cast struggling to juggle their increasing shock as the cybernatural events get increasingly silly, and any appeal for the lightweight Scream TV series-meets-Pretty Little Liars TV series enterprise waning swiftly across its runtime.
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