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HORROR

MOVIE REVIEW OF SIMON VERHOEVEN’s 2016 FILM ‘FRIEND REQUEST’

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imageFriend Request’ is a cyber horror film that is constantly compared to 2014’s Unfriended. While both films share similar themes in terms of cyber bullying and the inability for the youth of today to ‘log off’, they are in fact quite different films.

 

The plot centres around a college student named Laura, she is pretty, popular and has a bright future ahead of her. Like most students her age she is fully committed to all things social media. Laura’s world is turned upside down when she fails to invite quiet loner Marina to her birthday party. After the troubled girl lashes out Laura unfriends her on Facebook and this pushes Marina to the edge.

Unable to take the rejection and the shame of returning to zero friends on Facebook, Marina decides to take her own life. It is this event that triggers are series of bizarre suicides all across the college campus. Laura and her friends begin to suspect Marina had dark secrets that could ultimately lead to their demise.

‘Friend Request’ is a difficult film to pin down, part horror, part social commentary it is constantly weaving from one style to another. Jump scares are abundant here and come thick and fast, yet there is depth and the audience is challenged where you least expect it. The film encapsulates the youth of today perfectly and has a lot to say about the pit falls and potential danger of social media addiction.

Friend Request 122345.jpg

 

The characters are fairly typical but it is the character of Laura who grabs your attention. She is truly engrossed in documenting every aspect of her life and posting it on the internet. Her addiction and the addictions of her friends are their biggest weakness. The protagonist Marina exploit this to lethal ends. The audience may constantly ask themselves ‘why don’t they just turn off their phones!?’. That is exactly the point, even when their lives are in danger the characters are unable to remove themselves from the digital world and the hold it has over them. ‘Friend Request’ got this message across loud and clear without having to explain the obvious or hold the audience’s hand.

Scares are frequent and often here, some of them you may see coming, others will catch you off guard. Many people regard jump scares as a cheap and lazy, but there were prolonged scenes off tension here often with a rewarding fright.

The main flaw with this film is unfortunately its second half.  It almost abandons the social media angle in favour of a witch hunt style theme. This split the film down the middle and made for an uneven tone. This was a real shame because the most terrifying aspect was seeing the characters unable to disconnect and trying to gauge who was going to be slaughtered next. Once that hook was abandoned it sadly just felt like many other films in its genre.

Unfriend

 

The Verdict

‘Friend Request’ is an interesting, tense but also flawed cyber horror film. It offers a shock a minute and moves at nail bitingly steadily pace before showcasing the plot’s big reveal. It is unfortunate that the film is let down by an inconsistent tone which breaks immersion some what and lessens the scare factor during the second half.

3/5

‘Friend Request’ stars: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley, Liesl Ahlers

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Visitor Rating: 2 Stars

HORROR

Longlegs: An Atmospherically Distressing Exploration of Evil

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Longlegs [credit: neon]

Longlegs has been the talk of the town with early screening reactions terming it as “the scariest movie of the decade”, which not only raises eyebrows but also significantly raises expectations. Neon is backing it with a strong marketing campaign that has got many horror fans extremely excited about it. Oz Perkins’ latest horror feature stars Maika Monroe, Nicolas Cage, Blair Underwood and Alicia Witt.

 

The official synopsis says “In pursuit of a serial killer, an FBI agent uncovers a series of occult clues that she must solve to end his terrifying killing spree.” Maika Monroe plays Lee Harker, the FBI agent on the hunt for Longlegs, described as highly intuitive and sensitive, while Nic Cage who also produces the movie, plays the horrifying serial killer. Perkins sets the standard right off the bat with the very first scene of the movie, which proves to be just an appetizer for what’s to come.

 

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie is divided into 3 parts that act as the standard three acts in a feature. The first two acts are heavily focused on Lee as we get to know her and follow the FBI’s pursuit of a serial killer on a spree. Lee is a single child, lives alone in a cabin in the woods, and is highly intuitive, maybe even psychic. She is able to decode the clues left behind by Longlegs at the locations of the murders. Her performance is restrained yet penetrative and often symbolizes how the viewer feels while watching Longlegs.

 

Nicolas Cage is horrifyingly creepy as our serial killer. He is the best horror villain since Bill Skarsgaard’s Pennywise in my opinion. His screen time is limited but, highly impactful. The makeup and costume design deserves a lot of credit for his extremely gross appearance and at times you won’t be able to recognize that it’s Cage under that wig. He has a certain mannerism that is extremely distressing and just his words are enough to scare the hell out of you. Perkins manages to get the best out of both his leads, while the supporting cast is decent as well.

 

When it comes to the visuals, this is a very aesthetically strong film. Perkins manages to create atmospheric tension and fear with constantly changing aspect ratios and his color grading choices which are supported by a crisp sound design. Where he falls short is the writing. The movie is too slow at times which causes it to lose its intensity. Some of the dialogues also feel very generic or amateur, with jokes that feel abrupt and unnecessary.

Longlegs [credit: neon]

The movie also slips into multiple genres, most of which are intentional but do not necessarily work. It is a horror movie at the outset but also a serial killer crime drama, an investigative thriller with shades of noir and supernatural. The writing really falls off a cliff in the third act, with a twist that makes sense, but massively underwhelmes. That said, the way it explores evil is intriguing and offers a lot of food for thought. I would suggest going into this movie without any knowledge, the lesser you know the better.

 

Longlegs may not be the scariest movie of the decade but has more than enough to crawl under your skin and deliver pulsating chills. It has strong lead performances, effective jumpscares, and a beautifully unnerving aesthetic and works best when it explores evil and focuses on its characters. Horror fans should definitely experience this suffocating and haunting ride. Perkins’ latest feature is his best so far, but that said, it gets buried under its immense expectations.

Longlegs will be released in cinemas on July 12.

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HORROR

The Exorcism | Official Trailer

A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

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Genre:

Horror, Thriller

Release Date:

June 7, 2024

Director:

Joshua John Miller

Cast:

Russell Crowe, Sam Worthington, Samantha Mathis

Plot Summary:

A troubled actor begins to unravel while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions or if there’s something more sinister at play.

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HORROR

Trap | Official Trailer

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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Genre:

Crime, Horror, Mystery

Release Date:

August 9, 2024

Director:

M. Night Shyamalan

Cast:

Josh Hartnett, Hayley Mills, Marnie McPhail

Plot Summary:

A father and teen daughter attend a pop concert, where they realize they’re at the center of a dark and sinister event.

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