Review: ‘The Friendship Game’ explores the dangers of our deepest and darkest desires

THE FRIENDSHIP GAME

From the Producer of THE WITCH and the Writer of “The OA”

Four best friends play a mysterious game procured at a tag sale, testing their relationship in unpredictable and terrifying ways. Glitchy body doubles and piecemeal memories are only the beginning of the nightmare-fueled film.

Performances from our five leads are exceptional. Dylan Schombing plays Kyle, a young webcam hacker essential to the audience following any trace of sense. Schombing’s eyes speak volumes. Kelcey Mawema is Court. She has a party-girl spirit with a drinking problem that hides an inferiority complex. Mawema gives us a solid performance, never letting herself become a third wheel as the story progresses. Peyton List plays Zooza. This role is a departure for List, even with her darker character of Cobra Kai. You cannot help but focus on her turmoil.

Brendan Meyer (who I loved in OA, and am still bitter we didn’t get our ending…) plays Rob with a trustworthy boy-next-door aura. But, Ober’s script allows him to explore a nuance that Meyer owns. Kaitlyn Santa Juana‘s turn as Cotton is enthralling. She is the thread we follow through the film as we unravel the game. There’s an “it” quality about her I cannot pin down, but I’m dying to see her in whatever she does next.

The script had me hanging on every word, every visual, and mind-ending twist. Writer Damien Ober and director Scooter Corkle hypnotize audiences with dizzying editing combined with slowly leaking reveals. It’s a ceaselessly engrossing marriage of devices. Add on the notable red/ blue lighting and jarring soundscape, and The Friendship Game holds you captive from the very first frame. It is emotional manipulation at its finest.

RLJE Films will release the thriller/horror film THE FRIENDSHIP GAME in theaters, on-demand, and digital on November 11, 2022.

SYNOPSIS: The Friendship Game follows a group of teens as they come across a strange object that tests their loyalties to each other and has increasingly destructive consequences the deeper into the game they go.

THE FRIENDSHIP GAME stars Peyton List (“Cobra Kai”), Brendan Meyer (“The OA”), Kelcey Mawema (To All the Boys I’ve Loved franchise), Kaitlyn Santa Juana (“The Flash”) and Dylan Schombing (“Watchmen”). The film was written by Damien Ober (“The OA”) and directed by Scooter Corkle (Hollow in the Land).


 

Review: ‘All These Small Moments’ is what life is made of.

SYNOPSIS: A teenage boy’s infatuation with a woman he sees on the bus further complicates his already tumultuous adolescence.

There is something about this film that stuck with me. While it might appear to be about a young man’s infatuation with an older woman he sees on the bus every day, it’s really about everything else going on around him. All These Small Moments is a film about a family breaking down. It’s about first love, and adolescence, and loss, and discovery. There is not one single loose thread in this honestly written script. It’s a true ensemble piece. I didn’t know I was missing Molly Ringwald in my life on a regular basis until I saw her in this role of Carla, a mother at the end of her emotional rope. Harley Quinn Smith does such a perfect job I thought I was watching myself in a flashback of high school… or in college. Somewhere between bold and shy, she takes the reigns of Lindsay and rides this opportunity further than one might expect from her actual time on screen. Brendan Meyer’s Howie is the driving force of this story. Giving a quirkier but completely believable performance rounds out a film that really does take the small moments and show us that each of them adds up to a much larger meaning. There are no massive explosions, no crazy otherworldly occurrences, just regular down-to-earth scenarios that happen as they would in any other family’s life in America, statistically speaking. That’s entirely the point. Although, there is a cool animated opening sequence with some pretty sweet music. You can see All These Small Moments in theaters and On Demand and Digital HD today. 

ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS features emotionally raw performances by veteran actors Molly Ringwald (“Riverdale,” Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club) and Brian d’Arcy James (“13 Reasons Why,” First Man, Spotlight) with breakthrough performances from up-and-comers Brendan Meyer (“The OA,” Fear The Walking Dead: Flight 462, The Guest), Sam McCarthy  (“Condor,” “The Blacklist,” The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Harley Quinn Smith (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Yoga Hosers, Holidays) and Jemima Kirke (“Maniac,” “Girls,” The Little Hours). The film is the theatrical film debut for writer and director Melissa B. Miller Costanzo who previously worked in the art department on such films as IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, THE FIGHTER and PRECIOUS.