Since social media has become a huge part of routines in the past few years, as people check their phones as soon as they wake up and love seeing what people are eating, doing, and obsessed with, there are many movies that talk about the dark side of technology. The 2017 film Ingrid Goes West tells an incredible story about Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), who starts stalking influencer Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). The horror genre has also tackled the theme of social media obsession, but while this does seem like a great idea for a scary film, there are a few horror movies from the past decade that are really, really bad.
Horror fans have noticed quite a few movies about social media killers. While some movies are shot entirely on a computer screen and that be so fun to watch, there are two movies that stick out as having no real plot and no interesting characters.
#FollowFriday and Friend Request were both released in 2016 and both try to tell a classic horror movie story in a more creative way. Both movies are about college students who are terrified after realizing that something odd is happening with their social media accounts. The movies share similar plots. In #FollowFriday, Nabila Nariman (Courtney Lakin) is a lonely college student who realizes that a serial killer is following people on social media and then murdering them. The movie relies on horror / thriller tropes and cliches without fully formed characters who audiences get to know.
In Friend Request, Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey) isn’t a good horror movie main character. She’s pretty, popular, and has friends and a boyfriend and a happy, peaceful life. Audiences don’t find out much, besides the fact that her dad di lei passed away and she also has an ex who seems to still be obsessed with her, which is creepier than it’s probably meant to be. Marina Mills (Liesl Ahlers) wants to be Laura’s friend di lei, and after she dies, a demon starts targeting Laura.
These movies are terrible, poorly made, and hard to watch. These movies feel even worse when compared to a movie like Searching and especially Unfriendedthe interesting and creative horror movie about teens chatting online that was released in 2014. Both horror movies happen on a computer screen and are incredibly artistic, cool, and impressive. But #FollowFriday and Friend Request are both shot in a weird way that ends up being confusing, not cool. Both movies spend a lot of time focusing on computer screens, with Friend Request telling audiences about Laura’s life and background through looking at her Facebook account. As Laura clicks through her profile di lei, audiences see that her dad di lei would have turned 55 as she was sad about the birthday that he missed, and her relationship di lei is also explained as audiences see how it began.
The big problem? Since neither movie takes place entirely on a laptop screen, it’s hard to say that this filmmaking decision works. It would be better for each film to be filmed only on the computer or to stop using this as a device. Like Play uses technology in a smart way, with a little kid becoming interested in a monster on an app, but #FollowFriday and Friend Request don’t quite go where they need to go. The opening of #FollowFriday is particularly bad with Nadia sitting in the library and everyone around her looking at social media. Audiences hear the other characters’ thoughts as they start tweeting. It’s truly, laughably bad and it would be so much better to open the film with a regular scene with regular dialogue as this filmmaking choice doesn’t work.
Both horror movies suffer from a really poorly conceived plot. In #FollowFriday, Nadia is studying journalism and people are being mean to her online because she wrote about the basketball team and got them into some hot water. Nadia and Eric (Joseph Poliquin) try to find the killer, and it’s hard to care about this story. In Friend Request, Laura thinks that Marina is creepy and weird but does her best to be nice to her before a demon comes after Laura. Ultimately, the movies seem to suggest that anyone can target anyone on the Internet and that it can be a scary place. But people already know that, and it doesn’t seem likely that a demon will really come after someone when they use social media, either, so this definitely makes it tough to watch these movies and feel scared.
Both movies are silly and don’t give horror fans anything to get excited about. While there are many films that want to talk about technology and social media, #FollowFriday and Friend Request don’t have anything new to say.
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