Danielle Harris’ directorial debut, the indie horror film Among Friends is a very watchable film but it suffers from 'asshole syndrome'. As in everyone in the film is an asshole so you really don’t care about them.
The set-up of the film is simple – A group of friends are invited to a murder mystery party and as the party wears on they all find out why they are there. I won’t spoil what happens but Harris lines up all her ducks and mows them down systematically. A similar film to Would You Rather except these participants know each other, but where Would You Rather gives you at least one character to cheer for Among Friends just forces you into the corner of ‘yes everyone deserves what is coming’ which for me doesn't work as there is no counter-point to all the mayhem.
The film was part of the Kickstarter movement and as such the budget isn't huge, so the idea of staging the film in basically one room is great idea, with only once there being a reason to go outside, this keeps the action up-close and personal, which adds the real feeling for the viewer that, just like the characters, they can’t get away. Writer Alyssa Lobit – who also plays the host of the party – has done quite well in that respect, managing to keep everything contained with a decent enough plot device that doesn't feel too contrived; taking the audience not out of the room but back in time. However she does leave the character development underdone as mentioned before everyone is an asshole, but that is about it, there is nothing else to let us get to know the characters.
The feeling the film gives off is like a cheap 80s film (the characters are dressed in 80s gear – as per the invite to the party) with definite B-grade leanings. All of the cast give their all, with Lobit’s Bernadette getting the juicy lines but everyone else at the table does a good job, selling us the story as best they can, unfortunately no one except Bernadette gets a whole lot to do.
Harris lets the action flow nicely and nothing is really good and really bad, except a crazy hallucination scene which features more than a few cameos, the way it is stitched together makes it just one crazy mind f*ck which adds something different into the mix of a fairly linear point A to point B film. Harris keeps things steady here and certainly knows how to frame a horror film.
A solid, low budget indie horror film that has some good, nasty moments and some not so great ones, Among Friends is definitely fun but it runs out of places to go well before the 80 minute run time is up. With a stronger script it may have been a great indie film.