Friend Request (released overseas as Unfriend) is a 2016 English-language German supernatural-psychological horror film
Laura (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is one of the most popular students at her college and enjoys an active social life with many friends and family members. She is active on social networks and has over 800 friends on Facebook. She lives with three friends, Olivia (Brit Morgan), Isabel (Brooke Markham) and Gustavo (Sean Marquette). She is also close friends with Kobe (Connor Paolo) and is dating Tyler (William Moseley).
Laura receives a friend request from a student at her campus, Marina Mills. Seeing her talents in animation, she accepts the request and begins a friendship with the lonely girl. However she soon notices that Marina's Facebook profile is plastered in bizarre and disturbing images and her obsessive behavior begins to make Laura feel uncomfortable. When Laura shares pictures of herself at her birthday dinner – to which Marina was not invited – Marina publicly and angrily confronts her at her college campus. During the quarrel, Laura accidentally pushes Marina and her hat falls off, revealing her bald spot, a result of trichotillomania, causing Marina to run away. Laura notices Marina's several comments, who tries to apologize to her, Laura eventually unfriends Marina on Facebook. Seeing her number of friends once again down to zero, a heartbroken Marina angrily closes her laptop. That night, Laura notices a black mirror, which shows a forest where a dark figure is seen walking. As Laura is staring at it, a terrifying demonic face appears behind her, but quickly disappears when Olivia turns on the light. In the next morning, teacher reveals that Marina has committed suicide, much to Laura's astonishment.
Another night, Marina uploads a video, showing she burns the drawing of Laura and commits suicide by hanging herself, terrifying Laura.
The next morning, Laura receives a message from Marina containing the video of her suicide. Later on, it is posted to her Facebook page. Laura is unable to remove the video, and her friend count drops. Left with no choice, she tries to delete her account, but an unknown error occurs. Realizing that she is being stalked, Laura goes to Kobe's apartment for help. When Kobe and Laura investigate Marina's Facebook page, they realize that the source code where it has been written is not the normal code.
That night, Marina adds Gustavo as a friend and posts a distorted picture of his face. The lights suddenly cut off, he is then terrorized by a spirit, while seeing things that were posted on Marina's page. Gustavo rushes into the elevator for safety, only to be attacked by a swarm of wasps; he is discovered banging himself dead later by Isabelle, who was sent to a hospital and begins to blame Laura for Gustavo's death.
The recorded video of the elevator attack is posted on Laura's Facebook page. Her friends subsequently turn against her by posting angry and disgusted comments, effectively making her an outcast. Laura attempts to text her friends that she didn't, but to her confusion, the texts suddenly change as "u will know what it felts to be lonely :)". Laura goes to the orphanage where she meets the woman, who reveals that Marina's real last name is Nedifar; Marina was ruthlessly bullied and tormented by the boys when she was seven-year old. However, they were murdered by an unknown assailant. Meanwhile, Kobe is looking for the black mirror on a website. Suddenly, the several faces of Marina appear on monitors as the lights begin flickering, but everything quickly revert when the janitor arrives.
A devastated Isabelle notices the mutilated body of Gustavo and rushes to find someone for help, but finds that nobody is there. Horrified after seeing the two men with their mutilated faces coming toward her, she rushes into the bathroom locks herself. To make matter worse, she finds the body of herself before being killed by the wasps. Laura goes with Detective Cameron and his officer to watch the recorded footage of Isabelle which showing that everyone were here, revealing that she's been hallucinating and slits her own throat out of madness, controlled by Marina. The footage was later posted on Laura's Facebook page. Tyler, Kobe and Olivia are unable to delete the videos, unfriend Laura or deactivate their account as unknown errors keep occurring, Laura's Facebook friend count continues to drop, while Tyler is looking the address of Marina's home. Olivia separated with Laura and moved out, fearing that she would share the same fate as Gustavo and Isabelle. Later, Laura notices the picture of Olivia from Marina's page, the picture slowly melts, implying that she is next. Laura attempts to call her, but Olivia has turned off her phone, alongside laptop. Olivia is attacked by Marina with wasps and taken into the hospital. When Tyler and Detective Cameron talking, Marina possesses Olivia through the heart monitor and lunges at the police officer, taking the gun from him. Instead of shooting the officer, she shoots herself in the head, killing Olivia.
Meanwhile, Laura hunts down the place where Marina committed suicide in order to destroy the black mirror that turned Marina into an evil spirit, she and Kobe go to Marina's house which was burnt down and attempt to look for her. While there, Kobe sees an ethereal entity come out of the basement and approaches him, but disappears when Laura bumps into him. Laura tells him that Marina is not there, but he suggests that they look in the basement.
Marina is not found in the basement, but while searching, Kobe is separated from Laura, who finds him staring into a black mirror. When she turns him around and asks what's wrong, he apologizes to Laura and says that she can't be lonely if she died. Kobe suddenly stabs her in the stomach, hoping to kill her in order to save himself and Tyler. Laura hits him with her flashlight and escapes from the basement as Kobe gives the chase but loses her. Laura then realizes through one of Marina's posts that Marina committed suicide in one of the nearby factories.
Meanwhile, Tyler finds a deranged Kobe looking for Laura. After getting a call, Tyler and Kobe head to the factories as well, but he tells Kobe to stay in the car while finding Laura. Once getting to the factories, a wounded Laura starts looking for Marina's body, she receives a video call from her mother, Caroline, who informs that she's been seeing Marina too. Laura's video call begins to glitch out as her mother begins to act strangely, a sign that she may be attacked by Marina. Caroline takes a knife from the table and goes to the other room, presumably killing herself as the connection times out. Devastated by her mother's presumed death, Laura begins to cry after seeing everyone she's loved being taken away. Tyler soon finds her, only their reunion is cut short when Kobe appears and stabs Tyler in the throat, killing him. Laura attempts to escape Kobe once again but reaches a dead end. However, before he can kill Laura, Kobe is violently attacked and killed by the pack of wasps.
Laura, feeling dazed, sees an apparition of a two men (presumably the boys, who bullied Marina in the orphanage). Laura yells at Marina, asking what she wants from her, the spirit of younger Marina appears and says that she wanted to be best friends with her as she leads Laura to Marina's rotten corpse and her laptop which transports Laura into one of Marina's earlier posts. Laura is then lunged at by a demonic Marina.
Some time has passed and there is a fresh batch of students. Laura is seen looking at some girls in the same way that Marina saw Laura and her friends. Laura then faces her laptop (presumably Marina's laptop) and is shown to have zero friends, just like Marina before she met Laura. Then her new account – which shares the same dark, grotesque images and renamed as Lau Ra – is revealed. The camera shows Laura's eyes are green and blue, implying that Marina has possessed Laura.
- Alycia Debnam-Carey as Laura Woodson
- William Moseley as Tyler McCormick
- Connor Paolo as Kobe
- Brit Morgan as Olivia Mathison
- Brooke Markham as Isabel
- Sean Marquette as Gustavo Garcia
- Liesl Ahlers as Marina Mills / Marina Nedifar
- Shashawnee Hall as Detective Cameron
- Nick Pauling as Detective Cameron's officer
- Susan Danford as Caroline Woodson, Laura's mother
Originally titled Unknown Error, the film was later renamed to Friend Request internationally, to avoid confusion with the 2014 film Unfriended. In Germany, the film is titled Unfriend, since Unfriended was released as Unknown User in Germany.
The film was shot in Cape Town at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Though the film was produced by German director Simon Verhoeven and German production companies, the largely English-speaking cast required the film to be shot in English. Filming ended in March 2014.
As of October 1, 2017, Friend Request has grossed $3.5 million in the United States and Canada and $6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $9.5 million, against a production budget of $9.9 million.
In North America, the film was released alongside Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The Lego Ninjago Movie, and was initially projected to gross around $5 million from 2,569 theaters in its opening weekend. However, after grossing just $750,000 on its first day, weekend projections were lowered to $1.5–2 million. It ended up grossing $2 million, finishing 7th at the box office, and passing Victor Frankenstein for the worst opening gross for a film playing in over 2,500 theaters.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 15% based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 3.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Friend Request's attempts to update old-school teen horror for the digital age do not, sadly, include memorable characters, fresh scares, or novel storytelling twists." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 31 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.
Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter praised the film for being "visually stylish and imaginative" but criticized it for becoming less interesting as the film went on. Jessica Kiang of Variety was impressed by the practical effects, but criticized the way the film had little to do with the "technology that it ostensibly exists to critique". Ally Wybrew of Empire gave the film 3 out of 5 stars, praising Debnam-Carey, who "[stood] out [amongst] otherwise mediocre performances" in contrast to the poorly written character of Marina. Wybrew went on to criticize the clunky lines, overenthusiastic score, and the protracted final act.