Of course, when the cast is uniformly bad, it comes down to poor direction. Corkle has no grasp on the tone or atmosphere of The Friendship Game, causing it to feel inconsistent. The film bills itself as “science fiction,” but unless the existence of webcams and computers make it so, the filmmaker has fumbled the ball on that front entirely. Minor spoiler alert: the presence of (kind of, sort of) alternate realities/dimensions does not inherently make any story a sci-fi one.
Corkle aims for a creepy, mysterious horror angle that works in theory. But that would require a grasp of the fundamentals of filmmaking, including but not limited to lighting, camera movement, and pacing. The man’s inexperience on a feature-length film is immediately evident. This is one of the worst-looking and edited films of the year. DP Farhad Ghaderi cannot create a consistent visual style: the party that instigates so much looks like it’s from a lousy Groove knockoff, while most of the film is a few steps below a Lifetime channel thriller. There are 5-minute shorts made for no money that have more visual panache than this.
“Fans of Peyton List may get a small amount of enjoyment, as the actor is good.“
The editing throughout The Friendship Game is just as awful as the cinematography. True story: after the friends tell their desires and the smash cut to the party happens, I had to rewind a few times. I was convinced I missed something; a line, establishing on-screen text, a whole scene, something. But no, the film is just that poorly assembled. The party is where the monkey’s paw effect of the poorly thought-out game begins. So why then does Cotton seem so rough when she first gets there? Yes, that previously mentioned alternate realities thing comes into play here, but that hardly explains it all. At one point, Z and Courtney get into a minor squabble over the placement of Cotton’s missing persons’ fliers. Courtney (going off the handle over such a small thing) insists that people will notice them better all clustered together. Pray tell then, why is a flyer posted on an out-of-the-way wire pole where passing cars will hardly see it?
Of course, the god-awful world-building in the script offers no help to the piss-poor filmmaking. The rationale behind what’s causing the mayhem is laughably dumb (if one can even call it an explanation). The characters are wafer-thin, while their lives are even less fleshed out. What makes these teens party and do drugs all the time? Is there nothing else to do in their town? Are they simply rich enough to get away with anything they want? None of these questions will be answered because Ober couldn’t write his way out of a wet paper bag.
The Friendship Game is deplorable from beginning to end. Fans of Peyton List may get a small amount of enjoyment, as the actor is good. Unfortunately, she’s the only worthwhile part of the film, as the direction, editing, and cinematography are woefully incompetent. The slapdash screenplay is full of stupid plot “twists” and one-dimensional characters. This is one of the worst films of the year.
"…one of the worst films of the year."