Monday, May 28, 2018

You've Got a Stalker

#Horror, Unfriended, The Den, Megan Is Missing Friend Request...In some ways, it's surprising that there aren't MORE social media based slashers.

Give it time.

Quick Plot: Laura is a pretty and popular college sophomore with a knack for taking super flattering selfies and doing amazing things with her hair. One day, a new goth student named Marina sends her the titular friend request, following up with a flood of stalkerish messages designed to make even the kindest of cool girls disinvite her newest BFF to her birthday bash.

Bad decision, that.

Before you can pick your best Instagram filter, Marina commits grisly suicide live on Facebook (I mean, some fictional social media site that is Facebook). Laura is shaken with guilt, but quickly learns that there's no need to punish herself: Marina is fast at work on that, posting nasty things on Laura's behalf and murdering her real friends in mysteriously wacky ways.

Friend Request got hammered by critics when it premiered last year and while it's littered with stupid character decisions, it's also really not nearly as bad as its reputation and Rotten Tomatoes' score might lead you to believe.

Yes, that's slightly disappointing for someone like me.

Fear the Walking Dead's Alycia Debnam-Carey is sympathetic enough as Laura, though I may have been seduced by her ability to maintain incredibly hair styling as her life falls apart (this is true in the zombie apocalypse as well). The story even takes some surprising turns involving a should-be victim taking some unexpected agency in his fate.

The pluses don't necessarily outweigh the minuses. Marina is a frustratingly bland antagonist with a rushed and trite backstory, and while the young actors playing Laura's pals try to make an impression, the script gives them such minimal material that it's hard to care much about their fates. Still, for a lightweight 90 minute modern slasher, there's fun to be had.

High Points
Yes, jump scares are still disappointing as a go-to in modern horror, but you know what? Friend Request does them surprisingly well

Low Points
Any movie that finds its viewer thinking, "You know what technology-kills-young-people horror had better character development? Bedeviled!" is not firing on all cylinders in all departments

Lessons Learned
Modern detectives have no time for investigation or sympathy, but plenty of time to discuss dinner options

College kids in turmoil now experience sever symptoms of excessively red undereyes

Never let a silly thing like being stabbed in the gut slow you down 

Life will get worse after you stare into a black mirror, much like how your emotional life will in many ways get worse after you watch Black Mirror

Is Friend Request good? Not particularly. Is it entertaining and far better than its dreadful reception might lead you to believe? I thought so. Granted, I have terrible taste. But that's what Netflix Instant was made for.

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