Another odd event this. Deadly Friend is of a time and place and if you are willing to go back there, its quite a good place to be. Films are not really made like this any more. For the most part, it’s a situation teen drama, with some comedy and quirkiness, but there are some dark undercurrents, reinforced with some very good performances.
New kid on the block, Paul (Matthew Laborteaux), is a compute and bionic wiz. He has a pet robot and teaches brain surgery at college. Not bad for a young lad who should have still been at school. After a brief romance with the cute chick from next door, she’s attacked by her crazy abusive father and ends up brain-dead. Paul steps in, to turn Samantha (Kristy Swanson) into an android with deadly results.
I think Wes Craven was looking at moving into a more mainstream market after his early success in the horror genre, he probably struggled to find funding in a time when ‘Horror’ was not really the popular. As always, Craven looks for a new direction to experiment with cross genre fields with a young cast, once again, Swanson takes the favourable lead female, girl next door role which Craven champions. Swanson is a great choice from the John Hughes stable; she later took the lead as the original Buffy in the movie (prior to Sarah Michelle Gellar). Its great to see Craven working as always with a cast of semi unknowns and getting great results. Swanson and Laborteaux carry the film with brilliant performances, supported with some great veteran actors: Richard Marcus and Anne Ramsey. The film is a success for what it is, as I say, it’s from a time and place which needs to be respected. The film also carries with it some great dream sequences (or should I say, Nightmare sequences as many are terrifying) and many scenes which look dreamy, obviously something working subliminal for later creative input.
When the gore comes, it’s pretty damn impressive too. The famous basketball scene is the highlight, which stands up against Scanners in its execution.