Kasun is walking down a deserted road, engrossed in his phone and memories of a deceased friend – he thinks he’s alone. But we wouldn’t be here if something spooky wasn’t about to befall our protagonist. That’s exactly what happens in Akash Sk’s three-minute horror The Friend. Billed as a sequel to Sk’s fourteen-minute 2018 short The Summoning, it serves as more of an epilogue than a fully-fledged continuation. But it can be viewed separately from its canon and still be understood.
As the narrative courses briskly through its mounting tension, there isn’t a solitary mystery to be unraveled by the audience. We know exactly where this is going, and now it’s a matter of the filmmakers’ flair. Much like The Summoning, the film is heavily reliant on Dheemantha Perera and Kasun Rathnasiri’s smooth cinematography (Rathnasiri also stars in both shorts), bolstered by Asela Bandara’s stellar color design and completely paying off through Dominique Ksacha Croos Sedra’s makeup effects. While we aren’t with Rathnasiri for long before the requisite horror runs up and double-taps the audience, there is enough of an immediate foundation in which we can quickly empathize with the character’s plight.
“…walking down a deserted road, engrossed in his phone and memories of a deceased friend…”
The editing is what you’d expect from a stock-standard chiller, with an increasingly quickened rhythm until the spooks are on screen, concluding with an extremely abrupt cut to black. While I did just say that the film can be viewed separate from its predecessor and still be understood, it impresses more as a proof of concept trailer than a complete idea. There is considerable potential in what the filmmakers have established to create a unique cinematic world, but it isn’t quite there yet. However, desiring more of this universe may exactly be the film’s purpose, because I am definitely interested to know and experience more – there is enough material to whet your palette, but not enough for it to be a completely satisfying singular movie.
It succeeds at mounting tension and establishing creepiness inherent to an empty road at night, and it bodes well for the filmmakers’ future in the medium, but it’s just a hair shy of being a truly compelling horror short.
The Friend (2019) Written and Directed by Akash Sk. Starring Kasun Rathnasiri, Shenic Tissera.
7 out of 10
"…“...it’s just a hair shy of being a truly compelling horror short.”"