08th Sep2021

‘Friend of the World’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Alexandra Slade, Nick Young, Michael C. Burgess, Kathryn Schott, Kevin Smith, Luke Anthony Pensabene, Neil Raymond Ricco | Written and Directed by Brian Patrick Butler

Friend of the World isn’t an obvious title for a sci-fi thriller but this low budget affair is set in a world after a catastrophic global war in which two polar opposites meet and begin a journey together to find safety and answers.

Those two characters are Diane (Alexandra Slade), a young experimental film-maker who wakes up surrounded by dead bodies and confused to how she got there, and Gore (Nick Young) an older figure of the United States military – a kind of stereotypical ‘it was better in the olden days’ kinda guy. Clearly he two are never going to be best friends but they are stuck with each other and even though it’s not overly original the dynamic between the two does work well.

Shot in black and white, probably in part, to cover up some low budget limitations, it’s still a choice that works well for the style of movie it sets out to be. Something like a cross between Night of the Living Dead and classic sci-fi movies of the sixties. Split into five parts and with a fifty minute run time, Friend of the World was unlikely to ever outstay its welcome and it does remain intriguing throughout.

It’s definitely at its best when it is most David Cronenberg-influenced with it’s body horror. There’s some really cool and clever effects, both practical and a small amount of CGI but it all looks really good. These effects not only add things to the story but they’ll gross you out as much as they will impress you.

For there relative inexperience in film, the two lead actors do well for a movie that although short is quite dialogue heavy. When you think post-apocalyptic zombie movie, this movie and it’s script isn’t what you expect. There’s very limited zombie action and it’s not what most movie viewers are used to. This is a good thing though, zombie movies have been absolutely done to death and desperately need switching up a bit.

It’s no surprise to see the Diane character described as an experimental film-maker because there’s an experimental side to Friend of the World. Not in a way that this is hard to follow (like some experimental movies I have seen) but it tries some unusual things occasionally. Like many of the films of this type, some of it works and some of it doesn’t.

Director and writer Brian Patrick Butler clearly has some messages to say about the world we live in and although the movie was written five years ago, plenty of it is just as relevant now. Who is right and wrong (good and bad?) in this scenario comes down to personal beliefs and is not as black and white as the movie itself. And can opposing views still work together when faced with the end of the world as they know it?

They are probably questions too big for this short movie but the filmmakers must be praised for trying. At just fifty minutes long, low budget sci-fi fans should definitely check out Friend of the World.

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