The first 45 minutes of “Friend Request”

This is a long synopsis of “Friend Request”.

Now, before I begin, I have a 9 month old daughter who doesn’t go to bed until 8.30, as well as a real life job that means I get up at 6am and don’t get in until 6pm, on top of all the other extra curricular activities that I get up to such as having sex, drinking, playing football, having sex and drinking.

So by the time I fire up the Netflix/NowTV/DVD player and settle down to watch a film, I’m already half asleep. So prepare yourself for some half reviews of films!

It was with great trepidation that Jade and I decided to watch “Friend Request”. After my terrible experience with the other “social media based horror”; the 80 minute YouTube buffer “Unfriended”, I wholly anticipated another shower of shit starring whiny, preppy American teens and their perfect lives being disrupted by a strange outsider, who then dies and haunts them through their social media accounts.

And boy oh boy “Friend Request” did not disappoint.

I feel it is of great relevance to notify you all that I DO NOT believe in ghosts, spirits, malevolent forces or demons, but I DO like that I can suspend my disbelief in something so foolish and that filmmakers are able to scare me and make me jump, in spite of the ridiculousness of the situations.

My main gripe with the whole ghost thing is that if you were in fact a ghost, would you spend all of your time and energy cocking about on the stairs, opening and shutting cupboards or glitching up the TV signal?

No, no you fucking wouldn’t. You would use your energy to try and properly communicate. Like enter the phone lines or highjack the broadband.

Shit, at least use the fridge magnets to write something, like some sort of chilled Ouija!

Which is why “Friend Request” should really appeal to my cynicism, because at least the girl is trying to contact the real world. It’s just a shame that as far as ghosts go, she’s a bit of a jealous headcase!

(Not unlike one of my ex-girlfriends. Super excited about her haunting me!)

Also, dinosaur ghosts, or lack thereof, cow and sheep ghosts haunting slaughterhouses, or lack thereof, and spider ghosts, ghost webbing the shit out of your eyelids and rendering you blind while you sleep, or lack thereof!

The film opens with a room half full of students, half full I assume because they’re doing studies on such bullshit things as internet addiction, when a teacher solemnly walks in to relate the news that some girl that no one seems that bothered about committed suicide over the weekend. Yawn, no one cares. Except this one girl at the front who everyone is looking at as she sits mouth agape and eyes of shock.

Cue opening title.

There’s this super popular and pretty girl, with big eyes and a cute personality, and some fucking awful cunts for friends. She has the perfect life, she’s popular, pretty, has a doctor (I think) for a boyfriend, granted her dad is dead, but her mum seems nice… and alive.

She doesn’t have to stay in the dorms on campus as she has an apartment, which she seems to take great pleasure in telling the weird, Goth, bald chick.

So, this amazing, identikit, all-American, sweetheart is called Lauren.

Well that’s what I thought for the first 30 minutes of the film, until I realised it was in fact Laura and her friends just can’t speak properly.

There’s this new girl who has started at the school/college/university/testing lab to create teenagers who look about 30, and her name is Ma Rina.

Now, I’m not too fussy with who I become friends with on Facebook, everyone I’ve ever met will serve some purpose to me at some point but God knows I haven’t spoken to most of them since secondary school, where they probably remember me as a bit of prick, so I’m amazed that we’re even pretending to have once known eachother, but if someones name is Marina Mills and someone called Ma Rina tries to add me pretending to be Marina Mills, they can fuck off if they think they’re getting accepted.

You catfishing little harlot!

Ma Rina is a bit of an identikit oddball. Dressed in black, hood up, black straggly hair, quiet, no friends, sits on her own, fails to make eye contact with the well popular girl who has been staring at her for like quarter of an hour during lessons, you know the type.

An easy target for those people that are your friends, despite you being well nice and popular and them being awful people!

Anyway, Ma Rina sends a friend request (See what they did there? Very clever!) to Lauren who, after having a quick scroll through the weird as shit, scary GIFs and movies on Ma Rina’s timeline, decides to accept said request on the basis that Ma Rina is new and doesn’t have any friends and Lauren is like totes the nicest person and is proper into Ma Rina’s shit as she’s super talented.

If by super talented, you mean clearly disturbed and hiding something, then yes, yes she is super talented.

Ma Rina and Lauren spend what basically amounts to around 4 minutes of time together over the course of the next week or so, but Ma Rina is one of those types of people that has never had any friends because she’s a bit odd and goes a bit OTT and comes over all full on as soon as someone wants to spend 4 minutes over the course of a week with her and she gets a bit full on and OTT and Lauren is a bit weirded out that the weird loner girl has gone all weird.

Lauren (I know it looks like I keep writing Lauren and not Laura, but I assure you I’m not and it’s just that you’re not reading it right) is due to have her birthday soon.

I’m not entirely sure how old she is supposed to be; it may have come up in conversation but I wasn’t paying attention, as I was too busy being internet addicted and was checking my Facebook timeline (that joke will mean so much more if you ever watch the film! But don’t watch it just so you can appreciate that joke a little bit more, it’s not worth it!)

Ma Rina gets wind of this fact and is totally on board with going to the party that no one knows has been arranged or invited to, but Lauren, despite being totally amazing and big eyed, doesn’t want the odd, stalker, murder GIF girl clogging up her party with her black hoody, so boys her off with the most blatant of lies that, given the films use of social media and internet addiction based studies, will clearly come back to bite her in the ass and set in motion a chain of events that can only really be described as a bit of an overreaction on Ma Rina’s part.

So it comes to fruition, Lauren doesn’t go for a quiet dinner with her boyfriend (“Just the two of them”) but instead meets up with longtime friends and family for a nice meal in a restaurant, you know, like what normal people do.

Personally, I think it’s perfectly reasonable not to include the girl that you’ve been friends with for a week and only really spent 4 minutes with her in the list of people that you want at your party, which makes the need to lie about it ever so slightly fucking ridiculous.

Grow a backbone Lauren! You coward!

I know she’s a bit unhinged but I’m sure Ma Rina would’ve understood if you’d have just said “I’m going out for a quiet meal with my family and some friends, nothing too big and outrageous!”, at the very least she would’ve been annoyed and maybe not spoken to you for a while, but not annoyed enough to *SPOILER ALERT* hang herself and burn to death over a fire ignited on a picture of Lauren.

Somewhere around this point Lauren has a dream about a hornet or a big ass fly waking her up by flying into the window and then Ma Rina’s distorted, bloodied mush pops out of nowhere and she wakes up and my girlfriend almost kicks me through the ceiling because she jumped so much and I was laying on her legs.

As it happens, Lauren and her awful friends, which include a drunk fat guy who doesn’t really understand the ambiance of the restaurant, nor the kind of get together that was planned, as he’s clearly shitfaced as soon as Lauren walks into the restaurant; her awful identikit blonde bestfriend who just so happens to be a bit of a prick and looks way too old for college; the token fat friend who one of the frat guys would have to “take one for the team” at a house party (I imagine, I’ve never had a great interest in frats, mainly because they’re called frats but also because I’m not a complete C U Next Tuesday!); a couple of forgettable family members, like an aunt and uncle or something; her mum who seems nice but totally kills the vibe by bringing up Lauren’s dead dad in the first of the celebratory toasts; her doctor boyfriend who makes me wonder how someone so dead behind the eyes can muster the personality to have girlfriend as pretty and popular as Lauren; and some weird, red eyed, shaggy haired, shit-tattooed guy who it seems may or may not have had a thing with Lauren, when they were about 12 I imagine, who her doctor boyfriend doesn’t like.

Lauren is a nice person, but she is a poor judge of character and makes terrible decisions regarding her choice of friends!

The instant upload of photos to Facebook of Lauren and her friends and family having just the totes best time is picked up by Ma Rina, as she only has one friend online and I bet her crazy ass has all of the notifications switched on, who does what any normal person would do and goes to the restaurant and stares through the window, probably wondering how people who are such terrible, terrible humans can be accepted by someone so kind hearted as Lauren and yet she is still a loner.

The next day at school Ma Rina decides to try and attempt to garner some love from Lauren by acting in a way that seems acceptable and likeable to her. This entails acting like an absolute twunt in front of everybody in the lunch room and screams at her and barges her and calls her horrible names, to the point that Lauren pushes Ma Rina so hard that her (Ma Rina’s) slouch beanie falls off and exposes her balding head.

Lauren then does something that isn’t even all that bad considering all of the other shit that’s been going down and is nowhere near as bad as lying to someone about a party or boasting about not having to stay in the dorms because she has an apartment, she goes to Ma Rina’s Facebook page and totally unfriends her crazy ass.

This then brings us back to the start of the movie.

You know the bit with the teacher, and the mouth agape and the eyes ashock. But what’s this, someone inquires if it’s true that she filmed herself on webcam when she killed herself?! I think this inquiry also happened at the actual start of the film but I was checking my Instagram instead of paying attention because #likes and internet addiction.

All of that crazy shit happens in about 30 minutes.

No wonder I fell asleep, I was all batshit crazied out… until… and now this is where it gets hazy as I was definitely flagging at this point, despite Jade poking me and shouting at me because she was scared.

Lauren is at her boyfriends house, having a post coital sleepover without the cuddling (apparently Christian Grey isn’t the only one who gets all weird about staying the night and doing affections at the same time) and she gets awoken by her laptop pinging and she opens it up and sees that Ma Rina, the little catfish, has re-added her on Facebook.

Now, I’m no expert on Facebook protocol and coding, nor am I one to say what a fictional ghost can or cannot do, but surely Lauren would have to accept the friend request before Ghost Ma Rina was reinstated to the friend zone?!

Fucking ghosts, you just can’t trust them can you? Going around hacking Facebook’s servers and hijacking the friend request protocol!

Ghost Ma Rina then PMs Lauren a video and the stupid idiot clicks play and watches aghast as Ma Rina’s suicide is played out in all of its mental, I’ve painted a picture of you, now I’m going to burn it and then hang myself over the raging flames, that are way too high and burning for way too long considering it’s just one painting of you, to death!

The Doctor wakes up right at the end of the clip, just in time to save Lauren from seeing anymore, but not before he has a sneaky peek and feigns disgust.

Ghost Ma Rina then systematically goes about ruining Lauren’s perfect little life, firstly by hacking her Facebook and sharing the suicide video, which leads to people unfriending (would’ve been such an apt title for this film!) her, and then she makes videos of her friends as a forewarning that she’s about to fuck some shit up!

Lauren has this weird moment with a mirror, that sort of turns into a heavily vignetted adaptation of the Metz advert, as she’s leaving the bathroom, and then gets Insidious’d by a grotesque head that appears over her shoulder, before Identikit Blonde Friend switches a light on.

Remember that red-eyed, tattooed ex love from the meal earlier, well Ghost Ma Rina’s behaviour lead Lauren to give him a use in the movie other than being an ex-boyfriend who there was clearly no chemistry with that’s why they split up, because what do you do if a ghost is hacking your Facebook and breaking “Friending” protocol?! You go to your ex-boyfriend who is (of course) a computer genius wizard and ask him if there’s any way he can trace the location of the buffoon who is clearly trolling her by pretending to be a dead crazy girl!

Ex-boyfriend/relationship friction guy traces the IP addresses or something and matches what is normal numbers and letters for your Facebook with the one for what Ghost Ma Rina is using and Ghost Ma Rina’s is all fucked up and green and yellow instead of red and purple. If I knew what any of that meant, I’m sure I’d be shocked!

Lauren pretends to understand and feigns shock and fear, almost as well as Doctor Boyfriend feigned disgust at the suicide video earlier!

Ma Rina then systematically targets Lauren’s friends, conveniently starting with the people that mean the least to her.

First up is the fat guy from the restaurant, this may not be true as I was dozing at this point. All I remember is the “One for the team” girl opening the elevator door and the guy running into the wall so hard and frequently that he smashed his face up so much that he died!

Lauren and the nerdy ex had discovered that Ma Rina didn’t exist, except that she did, but her name wasn’t Ma Rina then, and she had escaped from a lunatic orphanage when she was little, because she set fire to her parents.

One for the team girl is next on the hitlist, but I have no idea how she was targeted, all I remember was that she was in hospital and saw a vision of herself slitting her throat, so thought it’d be acceptable to do it in real life.

Lauren visited the orphanage, where the head lady is more than willing to disclose confidential information about Ma Rina, which seems a bit unethical, but, judging by the state of the facility, I don’t think ethics were very high on their list of priorities.

I imagine the list of priorities were as follows:

  1. Don’t get killed by the lunatic orphans.

  2. Trick some gullible/desperate people into adopting the psychotic children.

  3. Don’t lose any of the orphans so they can go to college, make murder GIFs and kill themselves and then send their ghost back to kill everyone that was a bit #firstworldproblemy and perfect.

Doctor Boyfriend gets a bit eggy when Lauren says she’s spending some time with Red Eye Guy because he’s found a way of finding out how a ghost is breaking Facebook code and protocol. I imagine Doctor Boyfriend feels threatened by Red Eyes’ superior brain power and the fact that he’s not a complete arsehole.

The rest of the film largely consisted of Jade squealing as she was so scared, calling me a “Rasclart” because I had fallen asleep and then me waking up as the credits rolled.

I will now speculate as to what happened in the rest of the film and then watch it again to see if I was right.

  1. Everyone dies, probably in this order: Identikit Blonde Friend, Dr. Boyfriend, Red Eyes… maybe Mum gets it too, but that seems a bit too harsh, but she did put a downer on Lauren’s perfect party that Ma Rina wasn’t invited to. And seeing as Lauren is being targeted by a vengeful ghost because she had the temerity to unfriend her on Facebook, it’s not completely against character to kill the Mum just for being a bit of a downer!
  2. Lauren will survive, only to go on and make the same poor decisions regarding the friends that she makes and will be next seen in the “Friend Request” sequels “Like: The Movie” or “Snapchat, You’re Dead”, associating herself with even morally bankrupt pricks and arseholes.
  3. Lauren’s Dad is somehow connected, as it seems too random for her Dad to be dead. Perhaps her Dad harnesses the power of dial-up internet and infiltrates Facebook through the unused dial-up backdoor and locks Ma Rina from the internet, like a Vision/Ultron deal. It would also explain why it took him so long to save his daughter given that dial-up takes fucking aggggggggggggggggggges! This seems unlikely as her Dad would’ve been 55 had he been alive so I think he’s probably of an age to be on Facebook but not into it enough to really understand it, so kicking a ghost out of it from the afterlife seems a bit far-fetched.
  4. No one from the lunatic orphanage will be investigated or questioned about the ethical processes of the institute.
  5. There will probably be a cliff hanger as the studio desperately hang onto the possibility of more sequels “Another Friend Request” or “Friend Request Pending”.

If you offered me the choice of watching a) Unfriended or b) Friend Request, I’d go for secret option c) You’ve Got Mail, as social media is obviously a stomping ground for millennial ghosts, yet I’ve never seen someone get haunted by letter or email (PS. I Love You doesn’t count, although it is weird as shit!

Morris Hawk

This week I will be completing the holy trinity of social media based horror when I watch HACKED” before I cancel my NowTV subscription and pray that the ghost of Rupert Murdoch doesn’t bum me in my sleep!



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