There's a certain lack of certainty inside Thomas Angeletti's obvious yet not quite so obvious 20-minute indie short film Friends Forever, a film with a seemingly simple set-up yet also layers of complexity and doubt.
The film's main narrative is set in Fall 1987 and centers around a group of college students - Cassandra (Ashlee Lawhorn), Erica (Colleen O'Morrow), Ryan (Mark Murtha), and Lisa (Paige Hoover) - whose discovery of an abandoned house leads to a house party they'll never forget.
Basic set-up, right? You can kind of picture in your mind exactly what's going to happen.
This is indie horror, after all.
Writing alongside Paige Hoover and Jared Richard Acker, director Angeletti ensures a lack of absolute certainty by infusing Friends Forever with both a compelling origin story and a psychological component that absolutely engages.
In fact, I'd dare say it's the opening moments of Friends Forever that truly set the tone. Father (Timothy J. Cox), Mother (Julie Carney), Son (Kevin Rife), and Daughter (Christy Carson) are here only briefly yet incredibly effectively. Carney, in particular, waxes an absolutely mesmerizing figure that you can't stop watching and you find yourself looking for cinematic clues along the way. I won't share the story, of course, but watching it is an absolute joy.
Flashing forward to Fall 1987, our college friends gather and it's not long before the festivities begin.
Again, I won't begin to share the story. Yet, it's rather hypnotic to watch with both Lawhorn and O'Morrow turning in particularly engaging appearances here that both go where you expect yet take some unique turns.
Lensing by Angeletti with Tyler Ronk is effective throughout and sort of brings to life both the world of classic indie horror and an 80's saturated atmosphere. It's jarring and off-kilter and very, very, effective. It's aided by William Stanley's original music for the film along with Monica Decker's immersive production design and Paige Hoover's period-sensitive costume design.
Special effects by Jared Richard Acker are also quite impressive.
Friends Forever is currently on the film festival circuit and should have no difficulty finding a home on the indie, microcinema, and/or horror fest circuit. This is a film to watch for if you get the chance.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic