Thursday, 16 February 2017

Friend Request (2016)

"Why did you accept my friend request?"

I wasn't expecting much of this film; it's part of what seems to be establishing itself as a new genre of horror film based on something evil in social media. It seems to be evolving it's own tropes- dead people maintaining an active online presence, not being able to turn things off onscreen and, of course, rather blatant social commentary. All this is predictable. What's less predictable is how good and genuinely scary this film is.

Our protagonist, Laura, begins the film normal, popular and happy until she befriends the awkward loner Maria, fatefully accepting a friend request yet not treating this very odd girl as her friend. Maria, unfortunately for her, is descended from a long line of witches who use "black mirrors" (no Charlie Brooker connection other than an interesting search engine result onscreen) to wreak terrible revenge on those that wrong them. This makes for a surprisingly good film.

Let's start with the cinematography and the direction; nearly all modern horror films are overly glossy, which robs them of atmosphere. This isn't. And, just as rarely, it relies on suspense rather than gore, finding new ways to do this with the social media conceit and managing to be genuinely scary in a way few modern films are. If I was twelve this film would have scared the pants off me. There's a clever ending too; I can honestly recommend this as one of the best recent horror films out there.

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