The 6th Friend, 2016.
Directed by Letia Clouston.
Starring Jamie Bernadette, Chantelle Albers, Dominique Swain, Jessica Morris, Tania Nolan and Monique Rosario.
Five years after their graduation party turned horrid, six friends gather once again. Little do they know they will be facing even more terror and bloodshed than before.
The 6th Friend suffers from “been there, done that” syndrome. That’s not to say the film isn’t enjoyable, but genre fans will predict every twist and turn in this slasher film. Generic doesn’t begin to describe this entry into the long-running slasher sub-genre as this feels like a mix of every late ’80s slasher that filled up the local video store. Again, this female-led horror isn’t horrid, but you’ll find yourself wanting to watch countless better films.
The 6th Friend follows six friends that reunite at a cabin, the location where they suffered a traumatic event five years prior. Jamie Bernadette plays Joey, the friend who has distanced herself from the tragic experience the most. She seems to carry the emotional scars of that evening still but sincerely tries to bury it. That’s a very different approach than Melissa, the friend who drags her to the cabin and is seeking fame from all the horror they faced years ago. On that fateful night, the women met up with drug dealer Tyler to try some acid. It seems to be going well until the night ends with Joey in shock and blood all over the cabin. Now they are back at the cabin, and each of them is seeing Tyler, in a creepy skull mask, even though they know that can’t possibly be true. Soon the women begin to go missing, and it seems like the terror is repeating itself.
While the filmmaking is fairly generic for a slasher, there seems to be a disconnect between the creators and the genre. Lifetime/Hallmark director Letia Clouston (then credited as Leita Miller) co-wrote the script, shows a lack of knowledge of horror, usually skipping over the moments of genuine suspense or thrills. The 6th Friend feels like it wastes more than 30 minutes on melodrama and a weak attempt character building, that could’ve been time spent to craft some real scares in this horror. It would be easier to forgive the lack of terror if the film went for a horror/comedy tone like Happy Death Day, but it feels like director Letia Clouston wanted to make a straight-out horror entry.
Where this film feels unique is the female-led production as the writer, director, and a lot of the crew were women. It’s hard to say The 6th Friend has a “feminist” twist as most slashers are female empowerment stories. Throughout the genre’s history, final girls have been a staple of the madness; this allowed women to be the heroes of this story without it feeling as forced as modern movies usually do. But what this film can boast is the way it handles the women and the story through the female gaze. Most slashers, while featuring strong women, sexualize them beyond belief whereas this film treats the sexuality of our characters and how the camera shoots them much differently than most. Nothing feels too exploitive, and there isn’t that long sex scene where the sole point is to show off some nudity. That’s not to say each woman is handled correctly as most of them don’t get fleshed out enough or fall into tired stereotypes like screaming girl or bad-ass lesbian. Just refreshing to see them treated as humans and not props, even though they barely feel like “real people.”
While you will have more fun visiting the usual haunts on Elm Street or fighting off masked men like Michael or Jason, The 6th Friend isn’t a poor way to spend an afternoon for anyone craving some slashing. There are enough kills here to keep horror hounds happy, and the killer is fun to watch, but the strong female-led cast will be the ones to get you through even the driest of moments. Jamie Bernadette gives a sharp turn as a new generation of final girl, one that is flawed and not as innocent as the Nancy Thompson or Laurie Strode’s we’ve seen before.
You’ve seen movies like The 6th Friend plenty of times before, but it’s never stopped paranormal horror or Adam Sandler comedies from being the same thing each time. My biggest tip for enjoying this slasher film: turn it into a drinking game! Join in on the partying of Joey and her friends and take a shot every time you predict what’s going to happen. You might be wasted by the time the movie is over, but you’ll enjoy The 6th Friend that much more.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★