The crew out at Lions Gate sent over a copy of Frenemy, and they had me pretty interested from the word go for several different reasons–I’ll talk about those in a minute. But for right now, we’ve got the immortal question staring us in the face: is a movie whole worth the sum of its parts?
Frenemy follows a group of friends who’ve seen a terrible crime. And as so often happens following a major traumatic event, they get to wondering why they survived. This is especially poignant in light of the fact that one of their friends did not survive. But it doesn’t stay poignant for long–at least, not so poignant–as the friends begin to realize that their fate is a lot stranger than they expected, and that their chance for redemption isn’t near as far away as they expected.
Like I said, this has a lot of great parts. The plot is unusual to say the least, like a strange Coen Brothers dark comedy. Zach Galifianakis is involved, and in a darker comedy. The last time I saw him in a darker comedy was Operation: Endgame and that was some unquestionably sweet movie. Now, it’s reasonable logic to suggest that this one will make a sweet movie as well–hard not to considering what’s gone into it–but that’s not always the case.
Frenemy, meanwhile, does do a pretty good job here. It’s not quite the dark comedy with an action edge I’d hoped for, but it’s almost like a Coen Brothers production of a Kevin Smith script. It’s very chatty. There’s a lot of dialogue in here, especially for an eighty minute movie. But there are still sufficient odd twists in here that make things sufficiently compelling.
The truly infuriating part of Frenemy is how it does the most horrendous things–murders aplenty, outright mutilation–and do them sort of off to the side, while the dialogue is going on.
It’s like listening to someone talk about their grocery shopping–how they found a really great deal on Ho-Hos, but they got cut off in the parking lot by a minivan with eight prostitutes in it and the wheels on the cart always squeak and stick and they couldn’t even take advantage of that great Ho-Ho deal because they have the heads of eight prostitutes in their trunk–yeah, the same ones that cut them off in the parking lot–and there’s hardly any room in the trunk for their Ho-Hos now and they really should get those heads out of the trunk before they start to spoil–the heads, not the Ho-Hos–and…well, you see what I mean.
That’s exactly what this movie is like. This strange mix of horror intermingled in conversational drama is a jarring contrast–a series of them, really–that can’t help but draw attention. And though the ending is one of those I dislike–in which many things go unexplained–I can at least take comfort in knowing that guessing here is almost certainly accurate. Almost certainly, which distresses me, but only almost.
The Screenhead Ten Scale gives Frenemy a nine out of ten for being a mostly compelling performance that jars its audience but still splits the difference sufficiently between keeping attention and shaking it away to make it an experience well worth watching.