Sometimes there's nothing better than a bad horror film. I'm not talking downright terrible or offensive, more along the lines of "so bad it's wildly entertaining." Horror flicks tend to be my route of choice when picking movies to watch for a FANGRRLS Deja View, and when I heard about Friend Request, in which murders essentially take place because of Facebook, I knew I had to see this movie for myself — no matter how bad it got.
Starring Alycia Debnam-Carey (formerly of The 100 and now Fear the Walking Dead fame), Friend Request originally earned the worst-grossing opening for a film since Victor Frankenstein, as well as a whopping 15% score on Rotten Tomatoes. But maybe this movie has withstood the test of two years' time. If you would also like to accept this Friend Request, it's currently streaming on Netflix. You're welcome.
1. Full disclosure, right off the bat: I thought this was a movie about high school students, but then I realized this is set at a college and it definitely explains why half the actors look like they were pulled from the WB Department for Casting Students. You know what I’m talking about.
2. Brit Morgan, I love you, but you are an adult on Riverdale now, so it is especially jarring to see you in this as college bestie Olivia. I mean, for Pete’s sake, Jughead cut off your Serpent tattoo.
3. This movie is supposed to be all about the horrors of social media, but the real stretch is that none of these kids would’ve found out about their classmate's suicide via Facebook before the teacher announced it.
4. We’re officially introduced to Alycia Debnam-Carey’s character Laura while she’s watching a cute kitty video, which, relatable.
5. Cue montage of Laura’s social media account, which manages to clue you into the fact that she’s a) a Popular Girl because she has a lot of Facebook friends, but b) a Good Girl because she volunteers her time with kids.
6. The guy who played Serena’s kid brother in Gossip Girl is in this too, apparently. He has a hand tattoo, which is a sign that he’s supposed to be punk, but he also negs Laura about her new relationship with the kind of Nice Guy eyes that immediately signal that he’s jealous in a not-so-healthy way.
7. Laura gets a friend request from Marina, a loner girl in her class who has no other friends on her page. Marina’s spoopy goth Burtonesque animations (which she made herself) are "cool" enough for Laura to hit accept, but everything about this account feels like spam. Or a ghost. Or both.
8. Things get very Single White Female after Laura accepts Marina’s request, including but not limited to Marina liking every one of her photos, Photoshopping them into pics together, and getting mad that she wasn’t invited to one of Laura’s parties. You should’ve known from the spoopy Burton animations, Laura, but she didn’t scroll down to the “older posts” which contain graphically violent images?! I’m with your other friends on this one, Laura. You’ve gotta ditch this chick.
9. “I’ve been trying to get your mom as drunk as possible” is another real line that one of Laura’s friends utters, so maybe she needs to ditch a couple of them too.
10. Laura’s mom calls her her “little green bean.” I’m guessing there’s a backstory there, but this film never chooses to elaborate. Whatever. I’ll roll with it.
11. The second less-than-believable part of this is that Laura wouldn’t be auto-logged into her Facebook account given how often she’s supposedly on it.
12. I used to think I didn’t want long hair, but then I saw Alycia Debnam-Carey’s locks in this movie and I’m definitely reconsidering my decision to not grow out my biz.
13. The lesson this movie seems to be imparting is that it’s never a good idea to have mirrors in your house, otherwise a terrifying demonic entity will pop out of it in the middle of the night and haunt you for days.
14. Marina commits suicide, supposedly after Laura unfriends her, but her account is still sending her messages even after her death? That’s a "report for spam" sitch if I’ve ever heard of one.
15. Once Laura watches the video Marina sent her, she can’t delete it from her page and her account continues to post the video and tag all her friends in it. See, what did I tell you?! SPAM.
16. In a later scene, Laura literally tries to call Facebook to get her profile deactivated and no one can help her, which I call BS on, but maybe this was the beginning of “fake news” after all.
17. Surprise sur-freaking-prise, Laura has to go to Hand Tattoo Gossip Bro for help, when all he does is look at the source code behind Marina’s page. Turns out it’s not source code, it’s some kind of shifting hieroglyphs. You’d think Facebook would want to know about ghost code mucking up the works.
18. Anyway, the spoopy ghost page starts adding Laura’s friends. I think you can deduce where this is going. In short: If the account makes it onto your friends list, you end up dead. MWAHAHAHA.
19. The creepy ghost girl continues to post vids of the murders in an attempt to drive down Laura’s followers. At one point, Laura’s friend Olivia non-ironically tells her to delete her account. It’s beautiful.
20. Punk Rock Gossip Dude is the only one willing to look into the dark corners of Marina’s Facebook, because obviously. Oh, his real name in this is Kobe, which isn’t much better than what I came up with.
21. The lesson of this film appears to be the importance of staying out of the creepy parts of the internet, but there’s also a lot of talk about black mirror witchcraft rituals, which makes sense given that a computer screen can function as a black mirror … and maybe I’m reading too much into this film.
22. At one point, Tattooed Gossip Friendzone makes this face and I know he’s supposed to be scared but I genuinely laughed out loud.
23. Given what we know now (or what has been very sloppily explained to us), I still can’t tell if Marina is supposed to be a ghost or a witch or a witch ghost hacking all of Laura’s friends through the internet. Either way, it takes the cops nearly an hour into this film to deduce that it’s not really Laura posting.
24. None of Laura’s close friends can deactivate their own accounts or unfriend her. Clearly, the solution to all of this is just not to go on social media, but the movie somehow presents this as Not An Option even though it is the most logical thing to do.
25. As a result, one of Laura’s friends Olivia gets attacked via witch code from a printer. Like what the actual eff.
26. Later, even though Olivia has turned her iPhone off, it turns back on with the sound from a Windows computer. That alone should tell you your phone is haunted, girl.
27. At this point in the story, there are only two options available: priest, or Apple store.
28. Throughout the movie, we see Laura’s friend count slowly tick down. Is she going to be the new lonelygirl15?
29. It just took me this long to realize that Laura’s boyfriend is played by the same guy who played Peter Pevensie in the Narnia movies. The American accent and The O.C. hairstyle threw me off.
30. Ah, yes, let’s go into the creepy basement where nothing bad has ever happened before and nothing bad will happen to us now.
31. Dark Web Gossip Buddy starts to throw his unrequited love for Laura right in her face as yours truly predicted he might once the going got tough. His solution is to try and kill her, because, in his words, “She can’t make you lonely if you’re dead.” Typical Nice Guy behavior.
32. Peter Pevensie’s accent slips when he’s trying to play it angry. There’s the Brit giveaway I was looking for.
33. “We’ve all been dying for her!” Nice Gossip Guy shouts, and I mean, this is Alycia Debnam-Carey we’re talking about. How many of us wouldn’t die for her?
34. Clearly, proof that there’s queer subliminal messaging even in ADC’s other, non-queer films.
35. Laura, don’t FaceTime with your mom in the middle of a witch haunting, because chances are she’s also being somewhat possessed.
36. Tatted Up Gossip Chum takes advantage of the situation to kill Laura’s boyfriend, but then he gets stung to death by wasps, which is the truest indictment that the friendzone is a myth.
37. Moral of the story: Don’t be Facebook friends with a witch. On the upside, Laura basically becomes a witch herself — only she’s not actually a Cool Witch, just kinda possessed by one. And she has zero Facebook friends. The cycle continues, maybe in Friend Request 2? Maybe on Snapchat?
38. This is why no one trusts Facebook anymore. Okay, mostly it’s because of fake news, but at least 10% is due to this movie.