By Mark Bell | January 19, 2013

Best friends Harriet (Brea Grant) and Reba (Vera Miao) are going on a road trip from Los Angeles to Austin, as Harriet is moving there for a new job. At first the road trip starts out like any other, though shortly after they clear Los Angeles a mushroom cloud can be seen behind them in the distance. Oblivious to whatever happened behind them, Harriet and Reba continue on their journey even as those they encounter along the way begin acting stranger and stranger.

A new spin on a post-apocalyptic film, Best Friends Forever is the story of the early days before the mutants are in the cities, eating the survivors. This is what happens right before folks run out of water, get a perma-grime look to their skin and start deciding whether to kill or be killed. It’s also a indie road trip flick with two friends trying to reconcile the fact that they’re about to be separated for a long time.

And I really enjoyed it. It doesn’t go full-on bleak, though there are some tense moments the longer the post-apocalypse malaise sets in, and of course Harriet and Reba have their emotional moments dealing both with their friendship, but also their unique situation of being the last to know about the end of the world (as they know it).

For the most part, though, it’s just a fun flick with humor in all the right spots, drama in others and overall a quality balance to the narrative. It also includes an interesting premise concerning a countdown clock that truly underscores precisely what the end of the world can mean beyond the obvious. It’s a nice touch.

It also look great, moves at a quick pace and contains wonderful performances by Brea Grant (who also directed and co-wrote the film) and Vera Miao (the other co-writer). Grant’s high-strung Harriet, clinging to a mantra that she’s “exactly where [she’s] supposed to be,” manages to convey an inner turmoil even as she trots out a happy face. Likewise Miao’s Reba, while playing the more wild of the two personalities, is also overcompensating for the insecurities she’s hiding (which are about to be brought into the open by the crisis).

Again, technically, Best Friends Forever fits into the post-apocalyptic genre while also doing the indie road trip film justice; it’s not a new pairing, but it is a unique-enough take. Usually these films play out with a gaggle of survivors needing to get to some far away city or safe haven, thus the excuse for the trip aspect. Here, the trip was going to happen anyway, there just so happened to be an apocalypse at the same time. It may seem like a small distinction, but in execution it makes all the difference.

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