July 3, 2014

SUMMER OF BLOOD, Day 33: Among Friends (2012)

Directed by Danielle Harris. Starring Alyssa Lobit ("Bernadette"), Jennifer Blanc ("Melanie"), Kamala Jones ("Sara"), and AJ Bowen ("Adam"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Lionsgate)
Running time: 01:20:08
Country: USA

The hostess with the mostest Bernadette throws an invitation-only 80s-themed murder mystery party for a specific group of friends. Apparently someone at the party is a killer and it's up to everyone to figure out who it is. Hidden throughout the house are clues for the participants. How lame. From there, shit gets pretty boring and awkward for the party-goers. But, sooner than later, they all find themselves drugged, paralyzed, and at the mercy of Big Bad Bernadette, who clearly has some sort of agenda as it pertains to her supposed friends.

As far as the characters, there are a whole bunch of them, but it's pretty easy to keep track of who's who considering they're all contained to a single room for the most part. There's the recently clean and sober Adam. Played by Michael Biehn's real-life wife, Jennifer Blanc, is the emotional (and apparently slutty) Melanie, who spends most of the movie crying like she just got beat by her husband. There's the bitchy, air-headed lesbian Jules, who's also Adam's sister. There's Sara, the hot, well-endowed blonde who's seemingly the object of Adam's affection, but poor Adam is stuck in the dreaded friend zone. Rounding out the group are Melanie's boyfriend Marcus and Blaine, who seems like the odd-man-out in the scheme of things.

I'm just gonna come right out and say that AMONG FRIENDS lost me really quick. It starts out bad. And not a good bad either. Just bad. Which was a shame considering I wanted to like it. For one, it's directed by Danielle Harris. Not that I expect Danielle Harris to be some amazing director, but anyone who remembers my Jamie Lloyd tribute knows that I love me some Danielle. Plus, she's been immersed in the horror genre for many years (another reason to love her), so I'm all about supporting a directorial effort from her. Secondly, it stars AJ Bowen. Because of his natural likability and his track record for picking good horror movies to star in, I'm more than likely to watch a movie just because he's in it. That said, my expectations were fair. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met - well, at first anyway.

After it takes fucking forever for the cruel hostess of the party to get to the point (kinda like most of my reviews), force her guests to play a convoluted and uninteresting game (even they didn't seem all that interested), and subsequently torture them, the film takes a psychedelic and utterly bizarre turn that pretty much redeemed it for me. What I failed to mention so far is that one of the party-goers decided to go "method" for the 80s theme and do some drugs beforehand. This pays off with a truly surreal hallucination sequence that features some amazing surprises and cameos. Other than that, I don't have a whole lot to say about this one. To me, the film doesn't really hit its stride until it's already too late. AMONG FRIENDS goes from being a disappointing and somewhat sloppy horror movie to a film that really surprised me with how much it goes off the rails. This is truly a strange film. Quite frankly, I could go either way with it on a second viewing. But hey, at the very least, it's nice and short and features some decent moments of violence, and Kane Hodder has a brief but hilarious appearance as a jaded limo driver.

Score: 6

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