Dinner parties are one of the weirdest rituals in the spectrum of human interaction. I mean; you have friends, you hang out with them, you laugh, you go out, you stay in, you eat, you watch films, you drink, and talk about whatever it is that’s on your mind, from the day you’ve had, to debates about religion and philosophy. That’s how friends generally spend time with each other, in a real life, real time, non Facebook style situation.
Its relaxed, spontaneous, comfortable and usually enjoyable, depending on the kind of buddies you’re choosing to spend time with, and this is how things should be.
A passage of time spent with individuals or groups of people, who you enjoy the company of.
And then there is that one person, who feels like just ‘hanging out’ together isn’t enough for them, and they feel like they need a more mature sort of evening (because we’re ‘grown ups’ now), where there is designated seating, table manners, and the good plates. There are even suggested topics of conversation and candles. (Oh and lighting your cigarette from said candles is a no no, apparently …) you know these people well enough that you’ve held each other’s hair back in the bathroom while you’ve been spewing your guts after a good night out, you’ve shared your secrets with them, and they have seen you with Gene Simmons style mascara streaks down your face at nine in the morning. You’re obviously a classy bunch.
But for some reason, because someone has seen too many episodes of Come Dine With Me, you’re expected to wear nice clothes, eat posh grub and drink vinegary wine (when really you just want a beer and a pizza), while you act all formal with each other and pretend this isn’t the most awkward night you’ve ever spent with anyone.
Oui, pet. Oui.
Among Friends involves one such awkward night, when Bernadette, a psychiatrist, is holding a farewell dinner party for her friends, after deciding to get the hell out of a city with heads too big to ever be shrunk. An Eighties themed dinner party with a murder mystery game, requiring full participation from her guests. Unfortunately, the host has big plans to reveal every secret and ounce of back stabbing, that have been going on under the surface of this seemingly happy little group. Y’know, typical dinner party routine …
Scream Queen and very talented actress Danielle Harris’ first lone foray into directing (despite a collaborative effort in the 2008 project Prank) is an impressive debut by anyone’s standard. A kitsch, and kooky torture flick that is a breath of fresh air to the genre, managing to teeter tantalisingly between bloody dark comedy, and chilling twists, with style and sticky, red, substance.
Penned by Alyssa Lobit, who plays the morally skewed Bernadette, the script is funny, entertaining and twisted enough to have left a wide grin on my usually miserable mug, when the credits began to roll. AJ Bowen (House of the Devil, Horrible Way to Die) is brilliant as usual, while I found the rest of the cast both believable and very watchable as their unlikable alter egos, while a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, cameo from the director herself wearing an homage to the clown costume she wore in her iconic performance in Halloween 4 will delight her fans.
A gory, twisted, uncomfortable, tale of friends, foes, and frenemies, Among Friends has all the right ingredients for a modern, cult classic. If this is what we can expect from Miss Harris in the future, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.