Among Friends is the full feature directorial effort of Danielle Harris. Yes, Jamie from Halloween 4 and 5 has matured into quite the scream queen and she’s now putting her talents behind the camera. Harris has stated that she was aiming for the look of a 1980’s B movie and she certainly achieved it. The movie opens with a white, stretch limo driving around L.A. to pick up party guests on their way to a themed go away party; a 1984 Prom Night Murder Mystery. It’s a fun, frenetic opening reminiscent of Valley Girl. On the way to their destination, one of the guests proclaims that “tonight is going to be killer”; oh, how very correct this statement will prove to be.
Bernadette (Alyssa Lobit, who also wrote the script) is the party host and immediately welcomes her guests with a cocktail. When everyone gathers around the dinner table, they are given their own personal clue in the mystery;these personal clues visibly upset all of the guests. When Jules (played with delightful ditziness by Brianne Davis) tries to get up from the table, it becomes apparent that everyone is paralyzed from the waist down. Everyone except Bernadette. Turns out Bernadette drugged their cocktails so they cannot escape her “party”. She also has hidden cameras throughout her house and has been taping her “friends” various indiscretions.
Ultimately, the purpose of this dinner party if for everyone to learn that they aren’t the best friends that they thought they were while various forms of torture are inflicted. Bernadette claims that she wants everyone to learn the meaning of integrity, but it really just seems as if she’s a bit of a sadist. The majority of the movie takes place in one room which is very effective at creating a feeling of confinement. The lighting is also very reminiscent of a police interrogation room. There is so much giddy, gory B movie potential, but the lack of developed characters really retracts from any kind of emotional investment. All of the guests are self absorbed, selfish, ugly people. We are never given any kind of backstory on Bernadette to explain why she feels she has the right to be judge and jury, nor do we really care. Overall, the general sense of apathy towards all of the characters is the weak point of the film. At an 80 min. run time it, actually, feels a tad bit long and the ending is so abrupt that you wonder if they simply lost the last few pages of the script and didn’t feel the need to replace them. Overall, it’s a B movie with some really great cameos, some wonderfully dark humor and if you stay for the credits, a hint of a seuqel. Among Friends is smarter and more original than “Would You Rather” or “Vile” , but a movie with Danielle Harris, A.J. Bowen and some other (surprise) horror veterans makes for some high expectations that are never quite met.