Danielle Harris has literally grown up in front of a camera. Her first role was in 1987 for the soap opera One Life to Live. She's never looked back since, starring in nearly 90 television shows and movies. These days, she's become a scream queen within the horror genre through her roles in four Halloween films and countless others. No longer content to have the camera pointed at her, Harris stepped behind it for her directing debut Among Friends.
A group of friends gather together for a 1980's-themed murder/mystery party. It soon becomes evident that their host (Alyssa Lobito) has more on her mind than a good time. She's brought them together to face their past transgressions and expose the sins they've secretly committed against each other. One guest (Dana Dairy) is missing and the others want to know what their psychotic keeper has done with her. As the night progresses, each guest is given the chance to ask one question about the missing colleague... but must "give" up something for an answer. Can the group find a way to overlook the wrongs they've done to each other long enough to escape?
I'm amazed what director Harris has done with her debut feature film. Not content to just sit back and make another slashed film, she's gone to great lengths to get involved with a project that actually has something to say. Among Friends also keeps you on the edge of your seat and gritting your teeth as you imagine the pain these characters must be going through as their host exacts her sadistic form of personal punishment on each of them.
Don't get me wrong. Never has there been a more despicable group of people who certainly deserve the tortures inflicted upon them. Every character sitting at the dinner table has committed an unspeakable act against their friend. Many of them more than one. I'm not justifying what the host does to her guests or think it's acceptable in real life. You certainly can understand where she's coming from, though.
Writer Alyssa Lobit pens a script that rises above horror genre clichés and gives viewers something to think about. Many concepts are brought up throughout the movie. One is that we wear masks in public to hide our true natures. Who we are behind closed doors is who we REALLY are. A question asked in the film is, "Are we ever truly sorry about something until we're caught and face consequences for our actions?" Interesting ideas which are more thought-provoking than the usual slice-and-dice movies we're used to.
Among Friends is rated R for violence, language, some sexuality, and drug use. Although there's little to no nudity, the sexual scenes are rather graphic in nature. In my opinion, they could have been scaled down and viewers still would have gotten the point. There's also reference to abortion in the movie, which might upset some viewers and keep them from watching or supporting it.
There are a couple special features included for Among Friends. Audio commentary is provided by Director Danielle Harris and actors Jennifer Blanc and A.J. Bowen. A trailer gallery is found as well.
Among Friends is a horror/thriller that rises above the usual genre fodder audiences are used to getting. It has something to say and is masterfully directed and written by two talents who have a long and bright future ahead of them if they keep at the filmmaking game. Combine all this with some inventive camerawork and you have a well-crafted independent sleeper hit which demands your attention.
Among Friends is available now on DVD and as a Digital Download.