Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Review: Friend Request

Friend Request
Cert: 15 / 92 mins / Dir. Simon Verhoeven / Trailer

Okay, we all know how this works by now, and the review for Friend Request writes itself almost as transparently as the film does. This all-too-familiar tale is a clock-punching hour and a half of colour-desaturated cattle-prod jumps, based entirely on the premise of "You don't understand the full mechanics of the supernatural; you don't understand the back-end workings of Facebook*1; ergo, they're the same!".

And in order for this film to work, that's a thematic-link that you're really going to have to buy into. It's easy to be cynical of course, and perhaps it's unfair to judge the logical implausibilities of a film where the plot itself is based on folklore and superstition. Then again, the film expects to be taken seriously in an age where the average audience member knows more about social networking than the writers apparently do.

But as readers with even the shortest of cinematic memories will have gathered, Friend Request is little more than a shameless plagiarisation of 2015's Unfriended, which manages to completely miss the point of what at least made that an interesting film (if not necessarily a great one). As this story's shunned teenager goes all digital-era-Carrie and starts haunting her contemporaries with suspiciously lo-res cam footage and suspiciously lavish Flash animation, we are at least gifted with a selection of characters that we won't mind seeing die. Ironically, the film's attempts to be macabre are laughable to the point where they're no longer funny.

Despite trying to provoke controversy with every on-screen expiration, the most offensive thing about Friend Request is its laziness.

But it's no less than I expected, so at least the film's consistent in that regard…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
File alongside Ouija; it's that stupid.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you fancy paying £10 to be shrieked at by an unfeasibly angry goth for an hour and a half, by all means.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Couldn't tell you either way, but I hope not.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
No, but that eagle-screech is in there (and for no real reason).

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: The film stars William Moseley, who was also in 2008's Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian alongside Warwick 'Wicket' Davis, and the voice of Liam 'Qui-Gon' Neeson.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Note, not actual branded Facebook. Just a user-interface and colour-scheme that look close enough to heavily suggest the world's largest social network, but different enough to not seriously infringe copyright. Although oddly, the word Facebook is screen-referenced in the share-panel of a online news article in the film (still not the actual logo, though). It's also interesting that this thoroughly exploitative, suicide-themed torture-parable seems to have had no problem in securing clearance for the usage of Apple products. Go figure.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a comment