A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Friend Request is a horror movie about college students and social media. It looks at both the positive and negative effects that social media can have on people, which is an intriguing idea. But it's ruined by feeling like it was shoehorned into a horror movie template filled with jump scares and clichés. The gory violence also includes suicides, guns, and knives; characters are battered, stabbed, sliced, and bloodied, and there's scary artwork/imagery. Language is also strong, with many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus insults like "you're a freak." Characters are shown kissing in bed, and there's a joke about being "on my period." College students drink socially, and there's a reference to a woman being a "drunk floozy." Smoking is briefly shown.
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What's the story?
In FRIEND REQUEST, Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is an incredibly popular college student with many friends, a new boyfriend, and an enormous social media following. Laura notices a strange new girl at school, Marina (Liesl Ahlers), and decides to accept her online friend invitation. Unfortunately, the lonely Marina takes things too far and starts stalking Laura. When Laura rebuffs her, Marina commits suicide, and the video of the event finds its way onto Laura's social media page. She tries to delete it, but the site mysteriously refuses to comply. Suddenly her friends begin suffering weird, ghostly attacks and even dying all around her -- with even more videos posted to her page. Laura's online friend count begins to drop, and she realizes that whoever -- or whatever -- is doing this wants to make her feel just as alone as Marina did.
Is it any good?
This horror movie begins with an intriguing idea -- exploring the pitfalls of social media -- but quickly succumbs to routine setups and payoffs typical of most uninspired ghost stories. Conversely, the thematically similar Unfriended (2014) began with a less intriguing idea, but its execution was far more inspired and terrifying. As directed by Simon Verhoeven, Friend Request does incorporate some truly unhinged, disturbing artwork and animation, but it's never used for anything other than just being there.
Mostly the movie consists of the expected jump scares, plus attempts to "solve" the haunting by traveling to the place it all began, etc. One character, a young man with a crush on Laura, goes crazy over his unrequited love, which seems like a serious stretch. And other than being "friends" and having a good time, there's nothing of substance to any of these characters. Fear the Walking Dead fans will be most disappointed seeing star Alycia Debnam-Carey taking such an ill-fated step down.
Talk to your kids about ...
Is the movie scary? If so, how? Could it have been scarier? What's the appeal of scary movies?
Did you notice characters of different body types in the movie? Do they all have a positive body image?
- In theaters: September 22, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: January 9, 2018
- Cast: Alycia Debnam-Carey, Sean Marquette, William Moseley
- Director: Simon Verhoeven
- Studio: Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: horror violence, disturbing images, and language
For kids who love horror
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