The terrorized-at-a-party horror genre where a group of people get abused one by one by a demented host has become extremely popular in the last few years including the decent Would You Rather just a few months ago.
Usually, these poor people are put through the ringer for either revenge, money or in the case of Among Friends, the dark secrets a group of friends have kept from each other throughout the years.
Among Friends marks the directorial debut of longtime scream queen Danielle Harris (most recently seen in Hatchet III) and at its center is a film about how crappy friends can be to each other usually without them noticing. This isn’t about being mean girls or being an asshole at a party but more weighty matters such as sleeping with your best friend’s boyfriend or sleeping with multiple friends at once or raping one of your friends, having someone notice but not do anything and ultimately not believe the victim.
Now all of these normally would just dissolve a friendship (or end in legal proceedings). But in the movies, that means gathering a group of friend for a 80s-themed party, drugging them so they are paralyzed from the waist down, duct tapping their hands and systematically performing horrific acts on them as a punishment.
These punishments come from asking a question or in the form of retribution after having watched a secret be revealed as the result of the bad host having conveniently placed surveillance cameras everywhere. As the secrets are revealed, the punishments are escalated beginning with a gnarly eyebrow removal and partial scalping to fingers getting chopped off and a nasty non-chemical induced neutering.
Harris does a pretty good job in keeping the action going while telling the story of how utterly bad these “friends” have been to one another. That’s a good thing as Among Friends is a svelte 73 minutes leaving little time for any fluff.
One of the more humorous moments – and there are few as this is a straight horror – comes during a mushroom trip from Jules (played by the lovely Brianne Davis) where she suddenly believes she is not tied down at a table but instead on the set of a movie. There, the entire cast is upset because she can’t remember her lines and she is having a hard time understanding the director, who is speaking in a different language telling her she’ll never working in this town again. During this drug-infused trip, we get a great cameo from Michael Biehn and Danielle Harris (in full classic Halloween clown get-up).
While this is certainly out-of-place for what the rest of the movie is, it works in a just pure batshit crazy way and also serves as a great way to not exactly show a cringe-worthy scene where the rapist gets his balls cut off by a pair of garden shears. Among Friends isn’t groundbreaking but it is fun and ultimately gives Harris’ directing career a good start.