“Friend Request” (2016) Directed by Simon Verhoeven. Starring Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Connor Paolo , Brit Morgan, Brooke Markham, Sean Marquette, and Liesl Ahlers. Popular college chick Laura friends a lonely Goth from her psyche class who is more than a little clingy. When she cuts ties with her smothering new gal pal, things take a turn for the worse and the Goth curses her and her friends. Oopsie. Be careful who you FB friend, you might die from regret. Or something…
The movie starts with an announcement in class that Marina has committed suicide. Turns out that Laura knew Marina, and tried to be her friend, but Marina was a desperate psycho that cursed her after the was rejected by Laura and her clique of friends.
Two weeks earlier…
Laura Woodson is a very popular college student. She has a “big” group of friends on FaceBook, does charity work and is interested in psychology because her dad died when she was little.
There’s a girl that sits in the back of her psychology class named Marina. One day she sends Laura a friend request through Facebook.
Laura looks at Marina’s profile and notices she does animations related to dark and creepy stuff. Ohhh spoopy!
She accepts her friend request. The next day Marina talks with Laura and tells her that she wants to be psychiatrist like her dad.
Laura and her boyfriend Tyler look at some of the messages Marina has sent Laura.
Some are strange like this one: “the computer has soul, it has our souls because we all share the web”
Tyler finds this creepy and disturbing.
That night, Laura has a weird dream about seeing a wasp outside her window. She follows it and JUMPSCARE! OOGITY BOO! Marina pops in front of her with her face full of wasps.
Laura and Marina have only been friends for two weeks, but Marina wants to go to Laura’s birthday party because she is clingy and Laura didn’t pick up on that right away I guess..
Marina calls Laura to wish her a happy birthday, and asks “Are you mad at me? Did i do something wrong?” implying that only someone who was mad at their friend wouldn’t invite them to their birthday party.
Laura tells her no, and that she’s only going to a get together with her boyfriend…but that is a LIE! *Gasp* Nooooo!!!
Laura actually goes to a birthday dinner with her closest friends and her mom.
Marina sees the photos Laura shares of her birthday celebration as she posts them to her Facebook wall, then moments later marina watches Laura and her friends celebrate her birthday.
The next day Marina confronts Laura in the cafeteria–she is angry and hurt because she was purposefully left out of the celebration. (And who hasn’t been hurt by seeing pics posted of IRL friends hanging out, having a good time at a party or get together and the sting of knowing that you weren’t invited? However…Marina takes this one psycho step further and yells at her in public and smacks her books out of her hands. “I thought we were friends!!!!”
Hint: If you are going to tell a white lie to spare someone’s feelings, don’t post pics of the event that you said you weren’t going to go to. It’s a real fast way to show that you lied and actually left them out of the fun. It’s stupid on your part, and honestly, rather mean.
Marina made her a present and wanted to give it to her at her party. She then questions why Laura even accepted her friend request, if she didn’t really want to be friends. (This is where Marina derails and goes completely bonkers.)
“Do you know how it feels to be alone?!”
Apparently, Laura does not. Nor does she care.
And this part is where viewers start to disagree about who is the real villain of the movie. Is it the clingy, possessive, crazy Marina? Or is it the cold heartless Laura? Or are they both the villains here?
After this incident Laura calls Tyler her boyfriend and he tells her to not answer Marinas calls, then later on the day Laura sees a ton of messages from Marina saying sorry and that she wants to patch things up, but this doesn’t work.
Laura unfriends her from Facebook.
Laura then goes for a bottle of water and is drawn to a mirror similar to the one in Marinas animations, she sees a forest and a hooded figure walking who slowly approaches the mirror. Then an evil spirit appears behind Laura. OOGITY BOO!
When Laura’s friend Olivia turns on the lights the mirror looks normal.
Editor’s Note: Black mirrors, made of obsidian, have been used by magicians and witches for centuries to see the past or the future, for scrying, and for personal growth. “The Obsidian Mirror is a tool for the extrasensory perception of the subtle worlds, such as exploration of our previous lives or ancestral history that current affects our lives. The mirror serves as a divination tool so we can see the past and the future—it allows us to see hidden aspects of ourselves so that we may better understand who we are as full human beings. One of the most important capacities of the Obsidian Mirror is that it connects us to and helps us to cleanse our ‘underworlds’, our shadow-selves, our unconscious aspects which limit our growth and prosperity—the reason for undesirable emotional patterns.” Thus, in respect to this movie, the obsidian mirror shows the darkest parts of Marina, her emotional trauma and stalker behavior continues after her death.
The movie then goes back to where Laura’s professor is announcing Marina’s suicide.
That night, a message from Marina shows up on Laura’s phone. It’s a video of Marina. She shows a drawing of Laura, that she burns, and then hangs herself and sets herself on fire (which seems rather extreme. Why do both?)
The next day Laura finds that Marina’s suicide video has been shared with all the students at her school. And it’s on her Facebook wall. Marina appears as a friend on her account once more, spoopy! and Laura is sent to the Dean’s Office where she is interrogated by the police and tries to explain that Marina was stalking her.
Laura goes to her friend Kobe’s house (of whom is crushing on her), and they notice someone posting on Marina’s profile, even though she’s dead! It’s a ghoooooost! Spoopy!
Gus (a friend of Laura) is talking with Isabel, his girlfriend, when his laptop and cellphone shut down all of a sudden. Then he hears a strange noise. Freaking out, he goes into a long, dark hallway to investigate and spots a creepy clown drawing (because reasons) on a door. He opens said door and Jumpscare! AHHH!!! Kids with mutilated faces appear and he runs to the elevator and takes it to try to leave the building.
Suddenly the elevator stops and goes dark, a wasps hive appears in front of him then a hand takes his hand and he screams.
Isabel who is Gus’s girlfriend, finds him banging his head on the elevator. Apparently he was having some REALLY BAD nightmares, or something. He dies in front of her.
A video of Gus’ death appears on Laura’s FaceBook wall, when she tries to post on her profile the message “You’ll know how it feels to be lonely” appears in the text box. It was typed by a ghooooost! Ahhhh!!!
The ghost also posts a video of Gus’ death on Laura’s FB page and she is suspended for the rest of the semester.
Later that day Kobe shows Laura that Marina friended Gus on FB two days before he died; then comments to her that black wasps are related to evil.
Editor’s Note: I had to do a bit of digging to find any relevancy between wasps and folklore saying that they are evil. The only thing I found remotely related to this movie was a Wiccan Blog that states that witches can use wasps and bees in spells to attack enemies that lie to them and to deal with matriarchal hierarchy problems. You can read it here: https://juniperwildwalk.tumblr.com/post/135635434440/the-use-of-hornets-and-wasps-in-witchcraft
As if Laura is not in enough trouble, she decides to go with Kobe to break into Marina’s dorm room. They find pictures that Marina took of her old school and discover that she practiced witchcraft. Apparently she did a ritual with a black mirror…to curse them. Because reasons.
Suddenly all the computer start flashing pictures of Marina, because this movie really wants to be a J-horror film that has ghosts that infest and manipulate electronics.
Kobe tells Laura the black mirror was used by people who practiced the occult to predict the future, and witches could turn into an evil spirit if they hanged and burned themselves in front of a black mirror. Because he knows ALL about that. Don’t you Kobe? I bet he’s a witch too…
Kobe and Laura rush to find Marina’s laptop and the place where she killed herself to stop her evil curse.
Olivia tries to leave when suddenly the printer starts printing weird code. She looks at it and the ghost of Isabel appears in front of her, Laura prints all the photos on Marina’s profile to look for clues.
Wasps keep attacking people, because reasons. I guess they’re Marina’s totem animal or something?
When the wasps go after Olivia, she falls out the window and lands on the hood of Tyler’s truck, begging for help.
They take her to the hospital and then drive over to Marina’s family farm to see if her laptop is there.
Meanwhile Olivia takes out all the tubes keeping her alive, then gets out of her room and takes a cop’s gun and kills herself.
Back at the farm, they see someone walking out of the basement, so they decide to explore the old root cellar. They’re separated.
Kobe stabs Laura and she runs away to a truck stop. Laura who finally notices that the factory– where the kids that bullied Marina were killed– looks like the one from Marina’s drawings, so she goes there.
People are dropping like flies. Heh. bug joke. as swarms of wasps keep attacking Laura’s FB friends.
In the end, Laura is all alone. All her FB friends are dead, and she may or may not be possessed by Marina’s ghost.
WEIRD MUSICIAN’S FINAL THOUGHTS
I seriously don’t know who people are supposed to root for in this movie, is it Laura or Marina? Ones a popular girl with a small group of friends, while the other is a crazy Goth who’s into the dark arts and has been alone all her life.
Honestly I don’t think they tackle the topics of loneliness and being ostracized by your friends and peers well. It could’ve gone to a darker, more emotionally bleak place, but it didn’t. It’s just sort of there. The idea behind the film is a solid one, but the execution is rather weak.
I couldn’t care less about her friends, of whom are identified by one, and only one clichéd characteristic:
Gus: He likes to eat. WOW! Such depth of character! Much emotion!
Tyler: Laura’s boyfriend who’s studying to be a doctor. Good, she’ll have a rich guy to take care of her…Oh wait. No. Sorry. That doesn’t happen. Spoilers!
Olivia: Friend of Laura and Isabel, and the only one who tries to leave but can’t
Isabel: She is Gustavo’s girlfriend. That is her defining trait. Awesome…
Kobe: Has a crush on Laura and is good with computers. Nice! Way to go bro!
There’s a question this movie leaves us: Was Marina a real person, or was she an evil spirit all along? Nobody knows.