Film review: Friend request

Friend Request:  Alycia Debnam and Liesl Ahlers. Picture credit: PA Photo/Warner Bros.
Friend Request: Alycia Debnam and Liesl Ahlers. Picture credit: PA Photo/Warner Bros.
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  • Genre: Thriller
  • Certificate: 15
  • Running time: 92mins
  • Cast: Alycia Debnam-Carey, William Moseley
  • Star rating: 4/10
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Communication via online networking sites could kill your social life – and you – in German director Simon Verhoeven’s ghoulish horror.

A familiar array of attractive, yet vacuous, American college students are easy prey for Friend Request, which boasts a similar plot to the 2014 thriller Unfriended, albeit without that film’s neat stylistic quirk of depicting slaughter in browser windows on the heroine’s desktop screen.

Verhoeven’s picture is more conventional and achingly predictable, telegraphing misery for each unsuspecting victim as a malevolent spirit wreaks havoc in the real and dream worlds, accompanied by deafening shrieks on the soundtrack.

These hoary, cheap scare tactics were outdated when fax machines were the latest technological marvel and certainly won’t impress audiences who hanker for sophisticated shocks and nail-biting sustained tension.

On an emotional level, we might feel concern or sympathy for the characters if the director and his two co-writers had invested time in developing their intricately intertwined personal relationships.

Unfortunately, with so many people to dispatch in 92 minutes, the emphasis throughout is on cruel and gory demises.

Death sequences lack originality and most include a swarm of computer-generated black wasps, which are supposedly linked to witchcraft.

Hashtag bogus pocus.