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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Olivia Crocicchia, Madison Riley, Corin Nemec, Christopher Backus
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Rebecca Cutter
MPAA RATING
NR
RUNNING TIME
91 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Phase 4 Films
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 "Besties" Picked Up for Distribution by Phase 4 Films 
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Best known as a writer/editor on television's The Mentalist, Rebecca Cutter makes her feature film directing debut with Besties, an effective but not particularly original drama/thriller about a 14-year-old girl named Sandy (Olivia Crocicchia, television's Rescue Me) whose lifelong fixation on the girl next door, Ashley (Madison Riley, Grown Ups) has serious repercussions when Ashley agrees to an opportunity to "babysit" Sandy over a weekend when Sandy's father (Corin Nemec, formerly of Parker Lewis Can't Lose) has to go out of town and agrees to leave Sandy at home with supervision.

The weekend doesn't exactly start off well when Sandy relents to a "small" party that inevitably gets out of hand with the police being called, but things really go from bad to worse when Justin (Christopher Backus), Ashley's ex-boyfriend and just released from prison, shows up a little bit later and after being rebuffed by Ashley starts hitting on the far too young to know what she's getting into Sandy. When he won't take "No!" for an answer, a frying pan to the head ends the conversation and his life.

The rest of Besties struggles to live up to its promising start as the film largely downward spirals into a procedural thriller as our two besties pinkie swear (I'm exaggerating) a promise of silence and, despite a bit of an unusual twist that comes along, the film focuses far more on the crime itself than on the significantly more interesting and involving awkward friendship between Sandy and Ashley.

To their credit, both Olivia Crocicchia and Madison Riley are top notch here, with Crocicchia eliciting just enough of that socially awkward teenager feeling that you're never 100% sure where her character is going. Riley, on the flip side, adds quite a bit of depth to a character who could have easily been a one-note player. While it's wonderful to see Nemec back in action, an actor I've always thought was under-appreciated, he's far too under-utilized here to leave much of an impact.

After a successful festival run, Besties has been picked up by indie distributor Phase 4 Films for a VOD/DVD distribution and while it's certainly not the best indie thriller I've ever seen it's a promising debut for Cutter and it will be interesting to see what she comes up with next.

© Written by Richard Propes 
The Independent Critic  

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