Indie horror flick, The 6th Friend, was filmed way back in 2016. But it’s only just now seeing the light of day on streaming platforms. Perhaps horror fans will recognize star and co-writer Jamie Bernadette from the fun stoner-slasher, 4/20 Massacre. Independent film company The Asylum is distributing what promises to be a bloody mix of slasher and supernatural subgenres.
Six college friends gather for the graduation party to end all parties. But their drug-fueled party ends in tragedy and death. Several years later, the six friends reunite for a weekend cabin getaway. Shortly after arriving, however, they start hearing and seeing ominous reminders of their their shared past. Someone, or something, has crashed the party. Now they’re trapped in the woods with a vengeful entity waiting and stalking.
The 6th Friend Suffers From Pacing Issues
At a trim 85 minutes, The 6th Friend feels much longer than its runtime. That’s not a good sign. Though the movie mixes supernatural and slasher elements, its first half is too uncharacteristically plodding to feel like a true slasher. Aside from the opening and intentionally ambiguous tragedy, The 6th Friend doesn’t introduce a clear threat until at least 30 minutes into the movie. Even slow-burn psychological thrillers need something lingering in the background to create tension. The 6th Friend simply waits a little too long to introduce its horror elements.
In the absence of scares, kills, and atmosphere, The 6th Friend spends its first 30 minutes in what feels like a holding pattern.
To some extent, The 6th Friend’s sluggish pacing is also an editing problem. At least two scenes drag long past their ‘best by’ date with seemingly no purpose. A ‘good night’ joke among the friends just goes on and on. Another scene with the friends trying to figure out what to do next is filled with awkward pauses. Neither scene adds enough to the movie to justify their length. In the absence of scares, kills, and atmosphere, The 6th Friend spends its first 30 minutes in what feels like a holding pattern.
Too Little ‘Super’ for Supernatural, Lack of Slashing for a Slasher
Slow beginnings aren’t a problem if the movie’s back half delivers the goods. And horror fans expect a few things from their slasher movies. Most importantly, the movie needs inventive kills and a little blood and guts. Unfortunately, The 6th Friend delivers on neither front. Director Letia Clouston,whose previous directing credits include a couple of made-for-television Christmas movies, does stage a few good jumps. Yet despite a cast of six characters, only a couple of death scenes remotely stand out. In the final 10 to 15 minutes, Clouston lets loose a little with some good gore. But the film’s killer won’t be distinct enough to stand out in the crowd of memorable movie madmen.
Good Cast, Interesting Ideas
To some extent, The 6th Friend is saved by its cast and some interesting story ideas. Jamie Bernadette is talented and clearly has a love for the genre. Bernadette and Clouston’s screenplay also thankfully eschews several tired tropes in favour of more fleshed out female characters. Both Bernadette (Joey) and Chantelle Abers (Melissa) deliver strong, believable performance that ground the movie. In supporting roles, the rest of the cast is uniformly good and likable.
… it’s these themes that elevate the movie above many other indie horror flicks you’ll find on most streaming services.
There’s also some nice touches to the story not typically found in indie slasher movies. What starts as a timely nod to #MeToo concerns takes a surprising detour in the final 15 minutes. Bernadette and Clouston add a nice twist that genuinely takes the movie in a different direction. Additionally, The 6th Friend roots its twist in another relevant contemporary concern – our cultural obsession with fame and notoriety. Certainly, these aren’t new ideas for horror. Wes Craven touched on similar themes in Scream 4. The movie’s final twist also prevents it from really delving too deeply into its bigger ideas. Nevertheless, it’s these themes that elevate the movie above many other indie horror flicks you’ll find on most streaming services.
The 6th Friend Falls Short Of Its Premise, But Still Worth Watching
Overall, The 6th Friend has a lot in common with real class reunions. Not nearly as fun as advertised, but still worth watching. In spite of its slow first half and lack of bloody mayhem, there are enough good ideas and talent involved to put it above most indie slasher flicks. Jamie Bernadette continues to impress as someone to watch for in horror.