Wearing its inspiration quite literally on its (DVD) sleeve ‘The 6th Friend’ could sit quite comfortably amongst the countless competent, yet uninspiring, second rate, second wave slasher films to emerge in the late 90s, after Craven’s ‘Scream’ spearheaded the sub-genres resurgence.
If the artwork on the one-sheet wasn’t enough to tip you off, this movie follows, quite literally, the formula of your typical ‘masked-stalker-slasher’, complemented by a twist ending which only those both visually and aurally impaired wouldn’t see coming.
The film’s plot opens with a party, a group of druggy girls and their hazy involvement in the murder of a rapist that fateful night. Fast forward to modern times and the girls decide that it’s time to get back together, this time at a remote cabin in the woods. Cue lots of ‘woo-ing’ and cliched ‘girl-talk’ about needing space, being there for one another and apparently how they can all bond and empower one another if they refer to one another as ‘bitches’; it’s not long before the drugs come out – again.
What can go wrong?
Well, as you would expect, the skull-faced stalker depicted on the DVD artwork shows up, sometimes, human, sometimes as a supernatural entity, and sure enough one by one the girls get picked off, in a disappointingly bloodless fashion.
The last point is the films major stumbling block, there are only 6 of the girls in the first instance and frankly -spoiler alert – they are all still alive by the hour mark. That’s a hell of a long time in a slasher, with no slashing.
… and that’s pretty much game over for me.
When the violence does come, its pretty tame and/or iffy CGI, and it does not deliver what it needs to.
Despite this, however, the film isn’t a complete bust.
The films production values are pretty strong. It’s well shot, and, given the demand placed on it to entertain, the script and acting isn’t bad either. Indeed, whilst it barely moved beyond mildly interesting, the script is quite good in some parts. The film is quite self-aware, and this allowed for some sarcasm and indeed for some of the exposition to work well. The characters even refer to themselves as cliched personas would be if ‘they were in a slasher film’, this helped you forgive the fact that, yes, they were indeed cliched slasher victim stereotypes. Indeed, there is a lot in this film which shows an awareness of what makes horror movies tick – a shame then that this movie, as competently put together as it is, managed to check all the boxes of what makes the not-so-good-ones tick, less.
Overall, it’s a struggle to recommend, because, well, I am not sure what you would be recommending. The characters are ok, the script, passible, the plot – and ‘twist’ – taken right from the 90s slasher handbook, but ultimately there is too little in the way of violence to make it count. I’ve no doubt it was a blast to make, and all involved looked like they were having a great time with it, but they were on a hiding to nothing as soon as the killer showed up and did very little of what was in his job description.