Monday, December 2, 2019

The Friend List Network

It was hard enough to keep the Unfriended and Friend Requests straight, only to then find out then there's another movie CALLED Friend Request. 

Which obviously, I have to watch.

Quick Plot: Veronica, an attractive young woman with a social media addiction, is assaulted one night out, her face doused in hydrochloric acid--the kind you can't find at Walmart. The detective on call is none other than Burke (Anthony Michael Hall), the kind of grizzled drunk whose introduced waking up in his truck, half parked on a stranger's lawn, covered in half full beer bottles.

As if we needed more insight into Burke's character, we follow him home to his dump of an otherwise lovely-from-the-outside suburban house, where there's somehow more empty shot glasses than square footage. Burke takes a bite of cold pizza that's presumably been sitting on his table for as long as his Breakfast Club residual checks have been clearing.

Just in case that wasn't enough, he also uses a conveniently open bottle of vodka to clean out a randomly gaping hand wound.

IT GETS BETTER. Burke heads over to his justifiably annoyed captain to get the scoop on the latest case and reluctantly meet his new partner, Laura Chance. Yes, she's a LADY, which means Burke turns on his charm:

Note that he hasn't actually seen her rear, so if you weren't already questioning the skill behind Friend Request, dialogue and spacial consistency are not one of its strengths.

Following Veronica's attack, Laura and Burke head to the department's official IT nerd Cam (officially as in Cameron, but I have to also assume as in webcam because I want to give something to writer Jason Falasco). Turns out, there's a social media slasher on the loose, hunting down victims via the world's most popular platform: Face List.

Not only does our killer find his victims through the platform, but he then steals their user identity to lure the next. Two men are next on the list, with both being skillfully castrated so they can survive without their favorite asset. Burke's ex-wife, a woman with a very specific habit of sleeping with men she meets on Face List, just narrowly escapes a similar fate. Burke and Chance have their work cut out for them, especially since neither seems particularly good at their jobs. 

It only takes our first victim's suicide by mirror (think the Pride scene in Se7en, only funnier) for the pair to be thrown off the case. It makes sense, since they have absolutely zero leads as to the killer's identity.

I won't spoil Friend Request, but please understand that much like Deviant Love, this is a movie almost worth watching for its twist. You might figure it out early, since the economy of characters rule is in full effect. Still, the actual execution of the reveal is ridiculous, and when you take more than 90 seconds to figure out its logic, it's even dumber.  

For people like me, that's a good thing.

High Points
He gets little help from the mostly amateur cast around him and genuinely painful screenplay, but credit to Anthony Michael Hall for tapping into his inner Gary Busey 

Low Points
I don't expect Shakespearean writing from a cheap horror movie that occasionally references the bard, but allow your female characters to, I don't know, talk like somewhat interesting human beings

Lessons Learned
The way to stay alive when spending 18 hours a day mixing your liquor choices is to occasionally supplement your diet with some potassium

Hospital walls are made with incredible noise-reducing insulation

You know how some of the most common advice for how to do regular morning runs is "keep a tidy pile near the door with everything you need?" The same rule applies to assembling your Face List murder kit

Fake Movie Alert
Admittedly, I'm not overly versed in the copyright laws, but let us all take a moment to imagine what the possible Asylum Studios version of Magic Mike might look like. We already have the title:

Stock Photography Alert
Hey, I totally understand and sympathize with the challenges of budgetary limitations, but even Ed Wood wouldn't have let an obvious watermark fill up a frame

Friend Request feels like this decade's iMurders, and that's obviously a great (and terrible) thing. If you're looking to expand your repertoire of cheap social media thrillers that try REALLY hard to stop you from using social media, this one's streaming on Amazon Prime.

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