The 6th Friend, an old-fashioned psychological murder mystery, draws from the ’80s slasher playbook with its nods to Scream, The Evil Dead and Friday the 13th. It also gives new meaning to the term final girl, with its virtually all-female cast (there are two or three secondary males). It’s written, directed, scored and produced by women, making it an unique entry in the usually male-dominated genre.
Six college friends get together for a private graduation party, but when an uninvited guest arrives, a horrible tragedy occurs. Five years later, they reunite at a cabin to help each other get over the events of that evening that continue to haunt them. When night falls, however, they realize that they’re being stalked by a chillingly familiar figure.
Scripter Jamie Bernadette stars as Joey, the one who still seems to be the most traumatized by the earlier occurrence, and she’s fine. Chantelle Albers is fun as the wacky Melissa, her sardonic best friend. The other performers (Dominique Swain, Jessica Morris, Tania Nolan and Monique Rosario), also fulfill their character archetypes satisfactorily.
Though The 6th Friend doesn’t exactly break new ground, it has many enjoyable moments. The camaraderie between the women is convincing, and Bernadette’s screenplay provides several instances of welcome humor. The film’s construction is of the “slow burn” style, with most of the mayhem taking place in the final act. That said, it provides a nice payoff with some appropriately sadistic violence. Though the denouement is rather silly, it’s silly in a fun way for those in the right mood.
TV movie veteran Letia Clouston directs with a deft hand, effectively managing the “jump in the dark” scares, and Chris Burgon’s cinematography attractively captures the “killer in the woods” milieu. Holly Amber’s Church’s pleasant score is also a plus, with its Halloween-ish hints. Matt Clouston’s visual effects are minimal but memorable, especially the acid trip that the girls go on at the beginning of the film, and the disturbing glimpses of the masked killer in the dark.
The 6th Friend will be released by The Asylum Friday, Jan. 11 in select cities, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Austin and Chicago.