61 Days of Halloween – Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend (2006)

Introduction

For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween, as well as a list of previously featured titles please go here.

Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend

In continuing to chronicle the titles in this series of horror films we come upon perhaps the most unfortunate title of all of them just because of how misguided certain efforts within the film are. One staple of horror filmmaking is the teaser scene. It’s a scene that’s an early instant jolt to get the audience in the mood, and also give them an early scare prior to some time spent character building. What some films do (like a few in this series) is have the connection to the main thrust of the plot be nebulous. The problem with that in this case is that the connection is practically trivial as the character involved ends up being almost a non-factor.

I, for one, love developing character when there are unique or interesting aspects that were previously unknown being revealed. This film dabbles in a bit of redundancy establishing certain things about Estrella repeatedly: she doesn’t interact, she likes to read, she has an over-active imagination are all facts that are beaten to death in this tale. Due to the fact that she likes reading, horror fiction mainly, and likes watching horror movies; it’s a license for the film to fawn over influential horror figures, but A Real Friend drowns in influence. Not just influence but a grab-bag of them: a Leatherface-like character, zombies, vampires and such. That can work, see The Monster Squad, but the film has other tricks up it’s sleeve that make it harder to tolerate.

As I’ve stated, films on the shorter side need to do a little more work if they also want to have a slower burn; the shorter a movie is the quicker patience runs thin. Yet, while facts about characters are known in some cases motivation remains a mystery for it: you wonder what the man Estrella refers to as “Vampire” wants, what anyone wants really.

There are more serious, more detrimental missteps later on that detract from the fact that we eventually do get fairly satisfactory answers to questions asked for far too long in a film of this length. There are laughable moments, ones where you step out of it because things are just unbelievable; unconscionable lapses in judgment and eye-roll worthy extraneous twists. It finds one way after another to be worse in act three. If you’re a completist, watch this title. You may like it better than I did. However, if you’re a bit more discerning pass it by.

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