Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Among Friends (2012)

Directed by Danielle Harris

Written by Alyssa Lobit

Stars: Christopher Backus, Jennifer Blanc, AJ Bowen, Dana Daurey, Brianne Davis, Kane Hodder, Kamala Jones, Alyssa Lobit, Chris Meyer

Release: August 27 2013, DVD (USA)

Among Friends marks scream queen Danielle Harris' directorial debut of a feature length movie and boy was it worth waiting for. My DVD finally popped through the door last week and due to other commitments I had to delay watching it just slightly - until now.

The basic premise of the movies sees a group of old friends attending an 80s themed murder mystery party at their fairly new friend Bernadette's house. Cue for Danielle and co to go crazy with the costumes, think bright colours, big hair and vivacious make up. Another friend of the group, Lily, is strangely absent but not letting this stop the fun the group are sent off to search the house for clues by Bernadette. Upon their rendezvous back in the dining room, the gang hit the drink and oh man will they wish they hadn't. Soon they are all paralysed from the waist down and our hostess from hell Bernadette has them just where she wants them; helpless and stuck at the dinner table. It seems Bernie (don't call her that to her face!) isn't all that she seems and has building up a psychotic personal vendetta against the friends whom she has learnt to be vicious, lying, cheating backstabbing...and sometimes worse. Bernadette wants to play a few party games with the gang and we are certainly not talking pass the parcel. As secret video footage is presented to the group, exposing all manner of indiscretions, Bernadette uses a cruel set of rules in order to maim her 'friends' in horrifying ways such as scalping and hacking away at fingers. 

I was really impressed at the performances in Among Friends. I firstly wanted to apologise to Kamala Jones as I rather ignorantly wrote her character off as the weakest of the bunch after the first few scenes. Not at all fair of me and hell was I proven wrong. The character of Sarah was 100% my favorite by the end of the film, she wasn't a perfect person by any means (who is?) but when she really starts to come into her own she shows a resilience and courage as well as humanity that perhaps doesn't exist or isn't seen from the others. That said the fact that Jules (played by the stunning Brianne Davis) is off her head on drugs for the films length may be an indicator that she could have acted differently if she had a clear head. Who knows, either way Brianne plays Jules to the hilt, a fun, wacky and definitely conflicted character. All I will say regarding Jennifer Blanc is that she gives a wicked performance (that's not me calling her acting bad by the way) watch the film and you will get my drift. AJ Bowen as the supposedly clean former drug addict Adam gives a squirm inducing performance as he nervously looks around the room for a good deal of the film before a dark secret involving himself sets the scene for the films most grotesque attack. Special mention to writer Alyssa Lobits portrayal of Bernadette, a woman so far off the deep end its unreal. Alyssa makes an ever smiling, pretty lady in a great dress an absolute monster and I loved every minute of it. 

I know there has been some disappointment for some with the ending or lack thereof  but personally I loved the final shot before the end credits. I thought it worked really well especially since the basic lesson there is that when salvation is in your grasp...Keep your mouth SHUT. The freeze frame also worked wonders for me and although, fair enough, part of me wanted to see exactly what happened next I also enjoyed the ambiguity of it all. Another tip...stay around for the full end credits....

A film not without its flaws, this is a first time effort and perhaps the film could have been a bit longer and some more secrets exposed about the friends would have certainly elevated the motives of Bernadette to a more believable level. However on the plus side, Among Friends makes for the perfect Friday night viewing; its fun, mean spirited and shows a great deal of promise for Danielle Harris directorial career, something very much highlighted by a drug induced scene featuring Jules. Pick up a copy right HERE and knock yourself out. 

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