Tribeca 2024: #AMFAD: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD is a Pulpy Party Film with a Bodycount!

 #AMFAD: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD is the latest by Marcus Dunstan, who not only wrote/directed the excellent Collector duology, but wrote the Feast trilogy and a bunch of the Saw films. Here with a script by John Baldecchi, Jessica Sarah Flaum and Josh Sims, Dunstan is tackling a film premise that is fast becoming a genre unto itself in indie horror, the social media slasher. This genre takes the slasher template, but with a millennial twist. Instead of caring who makes it out alive, we are all happily watching as vapid wannabe social media influencers and hangers on are taken out one by one. While these films tend to be fun, yet forgettable, #AMFAD really raises the bar with not only an impressive ensemble, but some truly gnarly practical effects. 

In a meta take on the current obsession with true crime and dark nostalgia. The film takes place two decades after Karmapalooza, a fictitious music festival that was tragically marked by the deaths of seven college students. They were horrifically murdered thematically to the seven deadly sins (Seven reference?), and this spawned a podcast, a netflix true crime series and a feature film about the S.D.S.K. (Seven Deadly Sins) Killer. In a morose cash grab the notorious fest is back to cash in on that notoriety and #AMFAD follows 7 friends who book an airbnb in the woods on their way to the fest. The game begins as they are greeted in their cabin by 7 deadly sins shot glasses and a note from the S.D.S.K. Killer; could be a joke, or something much more sinister. We, the audience, are then paired off with the final girl-esque Sarah (Jade Pettyjohn), the newcomer to the group of long time friends who harbor a terrible secret. 

While the initial first act of  #AMFAD feels much like the many social media slashers before it, we get your standard character archetypes, that we honestly can’t wait to see perish. It differs in the quality of performances each character slowly deals out and how they manage to make you somehow care about them. Surprisingly you begin to witness some real performances coalesce on screen as they start getting knocked off one by one, and we discover not everyone is who or what they claim to be. While that first act felt a bit too derivative, I soon discovered this to be a meta discussion on the S.D.S.K. Killer and serial killers as a whole. The second and third act however, offer up some rather devious twists and turns. Also given the consequences these films offer based on romantic entanglements, the film’s LGBTQ+ themes compound the tension and the possibilities, because everyone is a suspect. 

The film’s clear standout in the lead is Jade Pettyjohn as Sara, who plays the bright eyed outsider with a very densely layered and rather performance. But thankfully she’s not the only one, the whole ensemble here gives the material their all, which was something I had yet to see from this fledgling genre. An unexpected surprise as a low key fan, was Jojo Siwa, who plays a minor, but rather pivotal role as a girl who was once a member of the friend group. To be honest, I originally thought she was another actor that looked a lot like the reality star, because the performance here seemed a bit more grounded and less exaggerated than her social media personae, but in a fun twist on the film’s premise one of the most down to earth characters was played by an actual social media influencer. 

#AMFAD: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD is one of those films that might fall on deaf ears during its festival run and it’s recently announce theatrical run, where it will be hitting theatrical and ON Demand August 2nd, but I am pretty sure you’re going to hear about in a year or two when the folks on Horror Tiktok, or whatever will be the platform of choice in a few years vet it as a future cult classic it deserves to be. It’s definitely a film that grows on you as you begin to understand its more derivative elements that are there to comment on these types of films and to simply lull you into a false sense of complacency, that is, before it bares its teeth and the game really starts.  #AMFAD: ALL MY FRIENDS ARE DEAD was a progressive update on the slasher formula that shows there still some life in it yet. It’s a hell of a gory good time from start to finish and a film that will hopefully have a sequel or two to come, here’s hoping.

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