The 6th Friend Review – Daniel Wood
If you look past the early hapless female victims of slasher flicks, Horror has always been a genre with elements of female empowerment more than other.
The iconic ‘final girl’ trope is one that many genre fans will recognise and it’s one that celebrates the strength, instincts, bravery and resourcefulness of women. Characters like Laurie Strode and Ellen Ripley have cemented themselves in the cultural zeitgeist as strong female leads.
But this is something that horror is leaning towards more and more as society strives to address the imbalance between men and women. Films like ‘You’re Next’ and ‘Revenge’ have turned the final girl trope on its head and pushed representations of women in horror forward.
That’s why I was excited to sit down and watch ‘The 6th Friend’ a horror film steeped in girl power as six friends who suffered a traumatic incident have a reunion five years later in a cabin in the woods and unsurprisingly find themselves fighting for survival against a demon from the past.
Borrowing ‘in-on-the-joke’ elements from Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’ and the ‘strong women teaming up against an enemy’ narrative from ‘Quarries’ ‘The 6th Friend’ is a mostly entertaining addition to the slasher genre that explores some lofty themes like sisterhood, reality television and fame.
Whilst there are some fun and inventive kill scenes, some excellent moments of ratcheting tension and some truly stunning moments of cinematography, the film is at its best during the interactions between the friends, with each character truly getting their personalities across and their friendship and chemistry coming across and genuine.
However, there are some issues. ‘The 6th Friend’ has a big twist that not only undermines the ‘girl power’ element of this group of women trying to survive; but it’s also not anywhere near as clever or a shock as they perhaps think it is. It also takes a while to get going with the beginning of the slaughter and conclusion feeling far too close together.
There are also some plot points that require a very heavy dose of suspension of disbelief with a psycho-tropic induced vision of the films psycho being one of the reasons the women don’t flee from their attacker and seek help. I’ve yet to come across a drug that will make you have visions of someone dressed specifically in a creepy mask, that’s also real, who is trying to kill you but here are!
Still, the performances from all of the ladies are excellent, with leads Jamie Bernadette and Chantelle Albers standing out in particular and the film is fun enough to overcome its flaws and make it an entertaining watch.