Friend Request trailer

A new horror movie with social media as an antagonist, Friend Request, is about one Facebook friend gone wrong. When I saw the trailer for Simon Verhoeven‘s R-rated horror film before 47 Meters Down, it was hard not to chuckle a little at the doom it spelled out when the lead unfriends what may be a witch on Facebook. Soon after a little laugh, I felt a bit bad once I realized the film involves suicide, but from the look of this trailer, it doesn’t seem to take that topic too seriously.

Below, watch the new Friend Request trailer

Horror movies with suicide generally don’t treat the subject with much sensitivity. After watching the first trailer for Friend Request, it felt a bit icky seeing suicide become part of what looks like a fairly run-of-the-mill horror movie. It’s not something to treat lightly, but that’s what horror movies often do.

But perhaps Verhoeven’s approach is more thoughtful than the trailers let on. The movie doesn’t come out for another three weeks, so that’ll be the time to accurately judge how the director and his two co-writers, Matthew Ballen and Philip Koch, handle the subject matter. One character in the trailer does suggest it might not have been suicide but a ritual.

It’s taken a while for their film to reach theaters in the states; it came out in Germany on January 7, 2016. Friend Request‘s domestic release was delayed for over a year. In the film, Alycia Debnam-Carey (Fear the Walking Dead) plays Laura, a college student who unfriends a lonely classmate named Marina (Liesl Ahlers). After that mistake, Marina haunts Laura on Facebook and elsewhere.

There are parts of Ingrid Goes West I find more horrifying than what’s in the trailer for Friend Request, partially because the Aubrey Plaza-led comedy is grounded in reality and genuinely interested in exploring the negative effects of social media. Whether Friend Request has anything to say, we’ll see – but the trailer makes it look like it doesn’t have much more to offer than some jump scares. There are already a few reviews online for the film indicating that’s the case, although some have praise for Verhoeven’s scares. Apparently, some of them are quite effective.

Another movie the trailer calls to mind is a fictional one: the cell phone horror movie that starred none other than Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) referenced in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Like the evil phone in that film, why not just toss away the computer? I’m sure that’s addressed and explained in Friend Request, but the trailer for the social media horror movie looks like it could’ve been a stupid fake movie.

Friend Request comes out two short weeks after the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s It, which is already receiving praise online and is on track to make a killing at the box-office, so it will most likely have big competition from Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Friend Request is just one of the many social media horror movies to come out these past few years. One of the more recent, and apparently better examples, being the Timur Bekmambetov-produced film called UnfriendedNerve is a thriller, not a horror movie, but that’s another good example of a popcorn movie using social media as a force of evil.

Friend Request opens in theaters September 22, 2017.

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