|REVIEW:"Among Friends" is another directorial effort by actress Danielle Harris. A veteran of our beloved genre, who's appeared in "Halloween"s "4", "5", and "Rob Zombie's Halloween" (2007). As well as many other genre films. Harris's first directorial effort was a film called "Prank". Which for all intents and purposes kind of vanished. And never made the splash it was supposed to. Harirs however now returns in "the orchestrator's chair" in this nod to 80's slasher movies. "Among Friends" brings together a collection of rich, privledged teenage characters.
Who of course lead debaucherous lives. Filled with drugs, sex, illegal behavior...you name it. But because of their place in the food chain, along with a clever bit of strategizing...none of these behaviors are ever exposed to the public. And in some cases...each other. They are invited to a friends house for a gathering, which turns out to be an 80's-themed dinner party. Upon arriving (and after a cool Kane Hodder cameo)...the kids begin to play up the "theme" of the party in their usual drug-induced and harsh-digs type of ways.
|But once they all sit down to have dinner, something strange begins to happen. Seems their drinks were laced with a little bit of something. A paralyzing agent which shuts down body movements from the waist down. Now that they all have no place else to be (literally), "someone" is gonna make them all confront their true selves. And the secrets they've been keeping, from the world....and each other. "Among Friends" sets a wonderful tone from the very start, to show the audience what the director is trying to do here. And trying to accomplish.|
|This isn't one of those horror movies where you have to guess what it's trying or attempting to be. Or what its influences "are" or "aren't". This picture is a "straight nod to 80's dark-comedy-horror". Films like "Happy Birthday To Me", "April Fools Day", etc. It has characters who you probably wouldn't like in real life. Once you get past their good looks, and into their shallow, and soul-less personalities. Oh these aren't terrible kids. They haven't like, murdered anyone or anything. Ala "I Know What You Did Last Summer". But they certainly are on a path to being the upstarts to those bastard teenagers from Stephen King's "Carrie".|
|In that they have participated in a lot of sick and twisted activities. One of which being a rape. The characters while, ethically, and morally bankrupt...are fun in their own way to watch on screen. This is because despite the tawdry, salacious, and scandalous secrets that connect them as a group...they all have contrsting personalities. Jules (Brianne Davis), is the bubbly one of the group. And in her case, it's double jeopardy because she's high on shrooms, along with being paralyzed...during this "trip down memory lane". While AJ Bowen (Adam), and Melanie (Blanc Biehn)...are the more serious members of the gang.|
And when the s*** hits the fan, and they realize they've all been drugged...their survival instincts kick in, and they both put up a fight despite being half-paralyzed. The member of the group, who decides to make the others confront their "ugly corrupt souls", is Bernadette (Alyssa Lobit). She is definitely the more mature of the gang, which comes through in her persona overall. And of course, her decision to bring the gang together for this "faux party". But she also has more than a few screws loose. And while making her friends watch tape of themselves behaving in less-than-stellar-fashion, when someone gets out of line with her, or breaks one of her "rules"...she makes sure they pay a heavy price. Lobit gives a terrific performance in the film, with a blend of sexy and psycho, and a dash of "it's for the greater good" thrown in.
You kind of side with her character in many areas. But when the finger cutting and stuff worse than that kicks in, you start to question her sanity. Even as she is supposedly doing all of this to restore some justice and morality to her friends cushy (and otherwise empty) lifestyles. Harirs herself doesn't appear in the film for a long period of time, but she does make an appearance in a very trippy, and weird scene where Jules has a "bad trip"....and imagines herself back on set. The costume Harris sports in this lengthy scene, will instantly be noticed by genre fans familiar with her earlier works. "Among Friends" isn't just a straight-forward morality tale though. The movie definitely carries strong horror elements.
|Which shine through in one scene where Bernadette is involved in a very "felt" and "up close" knife sequence. And thrown in for good measure, is a question mark character. One of the groups female friends named Lily, who's passed out in a bathtub somewhere in the house. And proves to play a pivotal role in how this "party" ends. "Among Friends" is a fun watch for genre fans, and the casual horror flick watcher looking for something new and original, while sifting through the DVD release bin. That these days...consists of terrible low-budget slasher films, and ghost movies with piss poor twist endings. It's crisp directing, nice use of 80's homage'ism, and above-average performances and script...all come together for a very enjoyable movie watching experience.|
|THE GOOD:Terrific script, fantastic directing, interesting-attention-grabbing story, and good performances. The few scenes that do involve violence fit snugly into the story, and serve a purpose. Instead of being gratuitous and violence for violence sake. The 80's horror influences laid out a nice plot groundwork for the film as well.
THE BAD:The films ending comes out of left field a bit. Felt unfinished and a bit brash.
OVERALL:Four stars out of four.