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Friend of the World (Film Review)

2 min read

Occasionally films come along that defy easy explanation. Usually they have David Lynch's name attached to them, or come from the banner of A24, but is neither. Director 's 50-minute black and white film fits into many genres. It's something of a science fiction film, there's a thin vein of jet black humour, it's very expressionistic, it appears to be horror inflected at times, and it also features elements of a buddy comedy.

Its brisk runtime is probably its greatest virtue. A film that defies explanation so much could easily grate but Butler has a very clear visual sense, drawing on the experimental style of German expressionism. The stark monochrome photography gives it a very throwback feel that helps its dark tone. 

Despite the clear low-budget, Butler makes sure that Friend of the World doesn't become a student art film, thanks in part to his two leads. is easy to root for as protagonist, Diane. Her ignorance to the state of things is fantastically well played; she's not entirely out of her depth but she lacks the vital information to make sense of the world she finds herself in.

gets the easier, more fun role as the unhinged army General. Channelling the ghost of Marlon Brando's Kurtz, as well as a dash of Orson Welles' delivery, he chews his lines up with relish. It's hard not to laugh at his blustery delivery of lines while dry shaving or glaring oddly at people.

The film's main issue is also its biggest virtue – it's singular. It belongs only to itself which could be an issue for people who don't step in time with it. For those who enjoyed the weird mix of horror and comedy in The Lighthouse, this feels like a companion piece. As the film continues, Butler makes use of the film's limited space, ratcheting up a level of suspense in the claustrophobia.

This is a film that would fit perfectly in late night showings, letting people discover it in long horror movie marathons. It feels like a film from the 80s, one forgotten by all but those who adore the world of weird, genre bending movies. 

Friend of the World flirts with the trashy, but it manages to maintain a level of success at being a look at the end of the world through this weird interplay between two people. It works very well and offers more proof that the weirder your film is, the more out there, the more it'll stand on its own. 

Friend of the World is released on digital on August 15th.