Friend Request

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Friend Request
Friend Request Poster.jpg
American theatrical release poster
Directed bySimon Verhoeven
Produced by
  • Quirin Berg
  • Max Wiedemann
Written by
  • Matthew Ballen
  • Philip Koch
  • Simon Verhoeven
Starring
Music by
CinematographyJo Heim
Edited by
  • Tom Seil
  • Denis Bachter
Production
companies
  • Wiedemann & Berg Film
  • SevenPictures Film
  • Two Oceans Productions
Distributed byWarner Bros. (Germany) Entertainment Studios (United States)
Release date
  • 7 January 2016 (2016-01-07) (Germany)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryGermany
LanguageEnglish
Budget$9.9 million[2]
Box office$9.7 million[3]

Friend Request (released overseas as Unfriend) is a 2016 English-language German supernatural-psychological horror film. It is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Laura Marshall.

Plot[edit]

Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is one of the most popular students at her college and enjoys an active social life with many friends and family members. She lives with Olivia (Brit Morgan), Isabelle (Brooke Markham) and Gustavo (Sean Marquette), Isabelle's boyfriend. She is also close friends with Kobe (Connor Paolo) and is dating Tyler (William Moseley).

One afternoon, Laura receives a friend request from a quiet classmate, Marina (Liesl Ahlers). Noticing that she has no online friends, Laura accepts and the two begin hanging out, but Laura is soon uncomfortable with her obsessive behaviour and sees that her Facebook page is full of dark and disturbing posts. Marina wants to attend Laura's birthday dinner but Laura lies and tells her only she and Tyler are going out. Later that night, Marina sees pictures of Laura and all her friends on Facebook, and she angrily confronts Laura the next day in college. During their quarrel, Laura accidentally reveals Marina's bald spot, a result of hair pulling disorder. Laura then unfriends Marina on Facebook.

That night, Laura notices the mirror in her hallway has turned black and it then shows a forest where a dark figure is seen walking. A terrifying demonic face appears behind Laura but quickly disappears when Olivia turns on the light. The next morning in class, it is announced that Marina committed suicide. Laura feels responsible but tries to forget about it, until Marina uploads a video showing her burning a sketch of Laura before committing suicide by hanging herself. Later on, it is somehow posted on Laura's own page and she is unable to remove it or delete her account. Laura goes to Kobe for help and he investigates her page, discovering the source code has been compromised.

Marina adds Gustavo as a friend then posts a distorted picture of his face. The lights suddenly cut off and he is then terrorised by a demonic spirit. Gustavo rushes into the elevator for safety, only to be attacked by a swarm of black wasps, and as the elevator doors opens, he is seen smashing his face against the elevator walls by an unseen force. Discovered by Isabelle, she is sent to hospital and refuses to see Laura, blaming her for Gustavo's death. A video of the elevator attack is posted on Laura's page and once again, she is unable to delete it. A messages appears on screen that reads: "You will know how it feels to be lonely :)".

Laura's friends begin to turn against her. Determined to know more about who Marina was, Kobe helps her break into her dorm room and they find an old class photograph from an orphanage. Laura visits the orphanage and discovers Marina's real last name is Nedifar, and she was bullied and tormented by two boys when she was younger. The boys were later murdered, with their faces mutilated and swarmed by black wasps, by an unknown assailant. Meanwhile, Kobe does research on black mirrors and learns that they were mostly used by witches.

A devastated Isabelle goes through pictures on her phone and begins hallucinating. Horrified after seeing the two men with their mutilated faces coming toward her, she rushes into the hospital bathroom and locks herself in, finding the dead body of herself before being killed by Marina. Later, a video of Isabelle being killed, in which she slit her own throat out of madness while being controlled by Marina, is posted on Laura's page. Olivia turns off her phone and moves out, fearing she will share the same fate as Gustavo and Isabelle if she continues to hang around Laura.

Laura sees a distorted picture of Olivia on Marina's page, implying that she is next. Laura and Tyler rush to save her but Olivia has already been attacked by Marina, hurled out of her window and hospitalised in stable condition. In the night, Marina possesses Olivia through the heart monitor and lunges at Detective Cameron's officer, taking his gun from him. She shoots herself in the head. Meanwhile, Laura finds the place where Marina committed suicide in order to destroy the black mirror that turned Marina into an evil spirit. While there, they search the basement. Kobe is separated from Laura, who finds him staring into a black mirror. He apologises and tells her she can't be lonely if she dies, then stabs her in the stomach, hoping to kill her and save himself.

Laura manages to escape from the basement. She later realises, by looking at the video of Marina's suicide, that she died in a nearby factory. Tyler finds a deranged Kobe looking for Laura, and they head to the factory as well. Inside, a wounded Laura is searching for Marina's body, when she receives a call from her mother, Caroline, who says she has been seeing Marina, too. The call then cuts out. Caroline takes a knife from the kitchen and goes to the other room, presumably killing herself.

Tyler finds Laura but their reunion is cut short when Kobe appears and stabs Tyler in the throat, killing him. Laura attempts to escape again but reaches a dead end. However, before he can kill her, Kobe is violently attacked and killed by the swarm of wasps. Dazed, Laura sees an apparition of two men (presumably the boys that bullied Marina in the orphanage). She yells at Marina, asking her what she wants, and the spirit of younger Marina appears and says that she just wanted to be friends with her. Laura is then lunged at by a demonic Marina.

Some time has passed and there are fresh batch of students at the college. Laura is seen looking at some girls in the same way that Marina looked at Laura in the beginning. Laura has a new Facebook page (she has re-named herself Lau Ra) but has zero online friends and her account shares the same dark images Marina had. Laura's eyes turn green and blue, implying that Marina has possessed Laura.

Cast[edit]

  • Alycia Debnam-Carey as Laura Woodson
  • William Moseley as Tyler McCormick
  • Connor Paolo as Kobe
  • Brit Morgan as Olivia Mathison
  • Brooke Markham as Isabel
  • Sean Marquette as Gustavo Garcia
  • Liesl Ahlers as Marina Mills / Marina Nedifar
  • Shashawnee Hall as Detective Cameron
  • Nick Pauling as Detective Cameron's officer
  • Susan Danford as Caroline Woodson, Laura's mother

Production[edit]

Originally titled Unknown Error, the film was later renamed to Friend Request internationally, to avoid confusion with the 2014 film Unfriended.[4] In Germany, the film is titled Unfriend, since Unfriended was released as Unknown User in Germany.[citation needed]

Filming[edit]

The film was shot in Cape Town at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Though the film was produced by German director Simon Verhoeven and German production companies, the largely English-speaking cast required the film to be shot in English. Filming ended in March 2014.[5]

Release[edit]

The film was released in Germany on 7 January 2016, 20 April 2016 in the United Kingdom and in the United States on 22 September 2017.[6]

Box office[edit]

As of 1 October 2017, Friend Request has grossed $3.5 million in the United States and Canada and $6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $9.5 million, against a production budget of $9.9 million.[3]

In North America, the film was released alongside Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Lego Ninjago Movie, and was initially projected to gross around $5 million from 2,569 theaters in its opening weekend.[7] However, after grossing just $750,000 on its first day, weekend projections were lowered to $1.5–2 million. It ended up grossing $2 million, finishing 7th at the box office, and passing Victor Frankenstein for the worst opening gross for a film playing in over 2,500 theaters.[8]

Critical response[edit]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 17% based on 66 reviews, with an average rating of 3.5/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Friend Request's attempts to update old-school teen horror for the digital age do not, sadly, include memorable characters, fresh scares, or novel storytelling twists."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 31 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[8]

Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film for being "visually stylish and imaginative" but criticized it for becoming less interesting as the film went on.[11] Jessica Kiang of Variety was impressed by the practical effects, but criticized the way the film had little to do with the "technology that it ostensibly exists to critique".[12] Ally Wybrew of Empire gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, praising Debnam-Carey, who "[stood] out [amongst] otherwise mediocre performances" in contrast to the poorly written character of Marina. Wybrew went on to criticize the clunky lines, overenthusiastic score, and the protracted final act.[13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FRIEND REQUEST (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Friend Request". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Friend Request (2016)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
  4. ^ Becher, Björn (8 July 2015). ""Unfriend" – Deutscher Social-Media-Horrorfilm kommt 2016 in die Kinos". Filmstarts (in German). Webedia. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  5. ^ Verhoeven, Simon. "Willkommen bei den Hartmanns". Simon Verhoeven Official Website (in German). Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Friend Request Project Details". Wiedemann & Berg. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ Faughnder, Ryan (20 September 2017). "'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' and 'Lego Ninjago' will battle 'It' for box office victory". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (23 September 2017). "'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Ropes $38M+; 'Ninjago' Dulls Sword To $21M; 'Friend Request' A Loner With $1.8M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 23 September 2017.
  9. ^ "Friend Request (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Friend Request Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 29 September 2017.
  11. ^ Scheck, Frank (22 September 2017). "'Friend Request': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  12. ^ Kiang, Jessica (21 September 2017). "Film Review: 'Friend Request'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  13. ^ Wybrew, Ally (19 April 2016). "Friend Request Review". Empire. Retrieved 24 September 2017.

External links[edit]