Social media can be a nightmare in the home video release of Friend Request


The consequences are deadly when black magic mixes with social media in Friend Request, available now on Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Friend Request, the latest film from director Simon Verhoeven (Men in the City), crafts a story of how bullying and social media can turn into something much more sinister. The film stars Alycia Debnam-Carey (“Fear the Walking Dead”, Into the Storm), William Moseley (The Chronicles of Narnia franchise, “The Royals”), Connor Paolo (“Revenge”, “Gossip Girl”), Brit Morgan (“Supergirl”, “Graceland”) and Liesl Ahlers (The Challenger Disaster).

Friend Request follows Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey), a popular college student who has everything going for her and a social media presence that proves it. One day, she receives a friend request from her classmate Marina (Liesl Ahlers), a shy and lonely girl that is just looking for a friend. Laura, not thinking much of it, decides to accept the friend request, thus setting in motion a series of horrifying events as Marina’s obsession with Laura grows and ultimately culminates in Marina’s mysterious death. What follows is a deadly curse that weaves its way into Laura’s life through the use of social media, eventually picking off each and every friend Laura has. Driven to end this curse, Laura must find a way to destroy the digital Marina before all of Laura’s friends end up dead.

I went into this film with relatively low expectations. Having been underwhelmed with the other social media horror film, Unfriended, I assumed that Friend Request would run parallel to its contemporary in terms of overall story. However, I found myself somewhat surprised as Friend Request was much more than social media bullying. I won’t go on to say this film was groundbreaking in any way, but I was thoroughly entertained throughout the 92 minute runtime. At its core, the film really is about bullying and the effects of social media, as well as our desire for popularity and acceptance, and I think that’s a powerful theme in this day in age. As someone who has been bullied, both in person and online, I found myself relating to this film in more than one way.

What really stood out to me about Friend Request was the art direction. Throughout the movie were beautiful vignettes that showcased black and white animation that represented the pain (and eventual backstory) of Marina that I thought were brilliant. I wished that these snippets went further along in the movie, as these artistic images were mostly just in the beginning portion of the movie, but regardless it was such a great addition to the film and something that truly stood out from its contemporaries.

Liesl Ahlers (Marina) stars in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s FRIEND REQUEST

In terms of acting, it was pretty much on par with what you would expect a teen horror film to be. However, the real standout, for me at least, was Connor Paolo, who I was already familiar with from his role in Stake Land. Though his character was a bit more aggressive than necessary in his quest to win over Laura, he still broke through the monotonous characters that usually plaster these types of films. There was even a moment when he realized how he could destroy Marina’s curse, a realization that many characters in horror films seem to never address. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Alycia Debnam-Carey and Liesl Ahlers’ characters, especially once the curse had been set loose.

Most important, the story was what kept me intrigued. Aside from the themes I already addressed it also took a new approach to witchcraft which I thought was really smart. It broke the mold in terms of the same ole’ witch story and made it into something much more unique and modern. Though the ending could have used some more finesse, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I was impressed with the overall storyline of the film.

All in all, Friend Request is a solid addition to the teen horror film genre. Though it could have used some work in terms of the ending and some of the more confusing aspects of the story, it still did a great job of setting itself apart from other horror films that came out at the same time. The majority of the acting was pretty forgettable but there were a few shining stars that had enough talent to keep viewers entertained. I loved the animation and how it was intergrated into the film and I hope we get to see more of this in future films from Verhoeven. I think focusing the story on anti-bullying and our obsessive nature with social media was a smart idea, especially with all that’s going on in the world, as well as the combination of the animation and witchcraft made for a unique film that I would be happy to revisit in the future.

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via Lionsgate

Friend Request is now available to own on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.