Slamdance 2013 Review: BEST FRIENDS FOREVER Ends The World With Classic DIY Spunk

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
Brea Grant's debut feature Best Friends Forever is essentially a B-movie. And that's a compliment. So then is it an essential B-movie? Imagine if Roger Corman gave a couple of Punky, feminist chicks a bundle of money to make a movie and the result is an apocalypse road trip movie that is just as grim as it is bad-ass, just as endearingly sweet as it is melancholic, and just plain fun and funny. A crowd-pleaser for the generation that grew up on midnight movies, underground B&W comics, indie music and thrift store shopping, Best Friends Forever checks all the genre boxes with spunk and a bit of bite.

Grant stars as Harriet, a comic-book artist who is moving to Austin for Grad School. Minus her best friend, Reba (co-producer/co-writer Vera Miao) Los Angeles is all but dead to her. Leaving Reba behind -- for at least a little while -- is going to hurt too much, so Harriet plans one last adventure for the duo, a mini-epic of a road trip straight to Austin. In the midst of a birthday celebration, omens of the end of days begin to trickle in. But for all the warnings Harriet and Reba are focused on their own world ending, though neither is able to readily admit it to the other.

A charming buddy movie through and through, BFF is never afraid to get dark when it needs to, which is actually rather quick -- though none of this is done without a sharp bit of humor. Car jacked by three hipster doofuses (dufi?) with a tazer, Reba and Harriet face their own dark night of the soul head on. As potent as the image of a mushroom cloud blooming across the backdrop of the quintessential American highway, BFF is a surprisingly observant film on loss and redemption, giving Grant and Miao a sturdy stage to run the acting gauntlet.

What's so enduring about BFF is its rough handmade feel. Michelle Lawlers' hella grainy super 16 cinematography litls and tilts across vistas, into every dusk, dawn and midnight madness style moment with a melancholy that underlines the sincerity of Grant and Miao's story. Jacob Chase and Amy McGrath's editing shines in moments like when Harriet watches the news of the terrorist attacks on a small, flickering screen of a black and white TV. It's a total paranoid genre moment right out of the independent scene of the 60s but relays Harriet's own state of distress perfectly.

As a labor of love, BFF is rather infectious. While I didn't think it would be my cup of tea, I was glad to be proven wrong and had a lot of fun. An essential b-movie, then? As a genre mix-tape Best Friends Forever certainly puts a welcome sunny disposition of a tune to the apocalypse.               
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