It would seem I had a mad dash weekend of Wes Craven films, and sometimes you just need that in life. Sadly, none of the last few were really worth talking about, and one was a terrible film (The Hills Have Eyes Part II). I wasn’t expecting much from Deadly Friend, but I came away presently surprised.
Deadly Friend follows Paul, the new boy in town. He’s created a little white and yellow robot named BB (take that Star Wars: Episode VII). He meets a pretty girl who lives across the street, and they become good friends. That is, until her abusive father throws her down the stairs, causing her to enter a coma, and Paul decides to implant BB’s brain chip in the girl to bring her back to life. The problem is, she’s a little different now.
This film has a sordid history. It’s based off of a young adult novel (entitled Friend), which I’ve never heard of. It’s Craven’s first film after Nightmare on Elm Street skyrocketed his name to the big leagues. The thing is, this was a coming of age story from start to finish, but test audiences hated it, saying that it needed blood and scares based solely on Craven’s name. So the studio made him go back, film gore and nightmare sequences, giving Deadly Friend and X-rating. This meant, of course, that it would have to be edited yet again. I watched what I think was the uncut version; the original test audience version has never seen the light of day.
How is the film, though? Well I went in expecting less from it based on it’s history and how bad the last few films were, but even so, I loved it! While this isn’t scary, like Elm Street, there are a few awesome scenes here. Namely the scene where her father creeps into her bedroom with a message, and another scene involving a basketball. That scene, while awesome and gory, has the only bad death stunt I’ve ever seen, where it’s blatant that there is a person underneath a setup swaying around, but it just added a weird charm to it all.
Speaking of charm, the robot BB looks kind of like R.O.B., and sounds like a cross between E.T., a Gremlin, and a Minion. It’s rather crazy. The cast is also solid, especially Kristy Swanson, who later became the titular character in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer film.
Craven’s directing is obvious here by the tension building, the great angles, and the better close-ups in scenes. You can tell where things were edited and chopped into place to make the new film. These moments are not as passionate as the other scenes, which makes me curious about the original version of this film. He has a clear style that just works, even if the source material isn’t what he wants to be doing.
Deadly Friend isn’t going to be for everyone, but dammit, I enjoyed it like a kid in a candy shop. It might not be Craven’s original vision, and some people might hate it, but I found enjoyment in the great gore and interesting characters. I don’t want to give to much away, but the relationships in this film are rather interesting when you dissect them.