Firstly, I’d just like to say thank you to Writer/Co-Director, Zach Noe Towers for allowing me early access to an online screener of his 11 minute, Horror/Comedy short, “Killer Friends”. Killer Friends is about a group of three friends that have had enough of their lifelong pal Scott (played by Towers himself) and plan to do him in once and for all. The trio consists of couple Bryan and Jill (played by Dave Racki and Jenna-Lee Carreiro) and Heather (Peggy Sinnott), whose kind of the tag along. They head out on a camping trip to do the deed but it proves much more difficult than they first anticipated. Towers has been acting for a few years but this is his first time writing and directing, though you wouldn’t know it.
Zach’s idea and type of characters make for great situational comedy, after all, most of us can relate to having that one friend that’s kind of sarcastic, who you never quite know how to take. I love a good Horror/Comedy but it’s a difficult thing to get right. I get the sense that Tower’s understands the genre and the intended tone that should accompany it. The good writers will try to set a scene that’s grounded in reality, much like this one (therefore relatable) but then taken to ridiculous lengths because that’s what most fans want to see. The camera work in Killer Friends is fantastic, in fact it’s some of the best that I’ve seen, especially from a first time Director. The framing is wonderful and the color saturation is absolutely gorgeous. There’s a wide range of really great shots, including the use of a jib/crane during a scene between Scott and Jill overlooking a rock face. Even the scenes at night are effectively back-lit and look really sharp. The audio levels are crystal clear and given the outdoor setting, I’m surprised they didn’t have more background noise. The score is another quirky addition to this dark little tale. It sounds like something out of a Tim Burton film (think Edward Scissorhands or Beetlejuice), it really works well in terms of flowing evenly with Zach’s edit, as well as the overall comedic extremes.
Each of the actors/actresses do a wonderful job in their roles. It’s clear by the natural chemistry of the group that these guys are all friends outside of the film. The timing has to be spot on with something like this, especially when it comes to the one liners and gags. Peggy and Jenna don’t get as much to work with in terms of funny dialogue but their realistic reactions to Scott’s self-centered nature and backhanded insults, help boost those funny moments. Dave Racki has a few funny lines early on but his best scene is with Zach, where he attempts to get his conceited buddy to take a deadly and explosive hit of weed. It should come as no surprise that Towers “Scott”, steals most of the spotlight throughout the brief running time. It’s two-fold, the character steals every moment and makes it about him (which is hilarious) and secondly so does, because well not only is he playing the character, he also wrote the script and knows how to present Scott. There’s plenty of good one liners here, my favourite being “You can do them anywhere, even while you’re eating donuts”, Scott says referring to Heather and her need to exercise (haha). The ending seems fitting but the aspect missing from Killer Friends is some practical blood and gore, that when done right can be really effective. I understand that it probably wasn’t supposed to be that type of short, however, as a fan of blood and gore I would have dug that type of finish.
Killer Friends is yet another breath of fresh air in the Horror/Comedy genre. As a first time writer/director, Zach Towers has given us a quirky and extremely entertaining short film. The quality of camera work, coupled with the beautiful color grading, make for a really high production value. The audio is neat and the score crescendo’s in all the right places, accenting Scott getting what’s coming to him. The performances are delightful and the group dynamic natural. The highlight is Towers confident and chirpy presentation of Scott’s, which comes on from the opening frame, setting the whole thing in motion. The only thing Killer Friends might have benefited from, other than a longer running time, was some practical effects (maybe letting those final frames go a touch longer with an impact). If and when you get the chance to see Killer Friends please do so, it’s an absolutely fantastic short film from a very promising Writer/Director.
My rating for “Killer Friends” is 9/10