A Real Friend (2006)

DECEMBER 19, 2008


As I watched A Real Friend (Spanish: Adivina Quién Soy), I began wondering why no one's made the movie before, because the story is simple and also through its very design allows a filmmaker to pay homage to his favorite horror movies. Basically, a lonely little girl escapes into the horror movies she watches; her imaginary friends are Leatherface, Nosferatu, and Mr. Hyde. And maybe Pennywise or Cheezo... there's a clown that pops up every now and then, but he never really gets a moment to shine. They are in the kill scenes, and also pop up in the background from time to time. Leatherface is essentially the girl's best friend, and does things like give her a hug when her parents are fighting. Brilliant!

The attention to detail was truly admirable, particularly for Leatherface. They never say his name (or the name of the movie), but the costume/mask are spot on perfect, as is the performance of Aitor Mazo (credited as Bubba, another nice reference). The film clips are recreated pretty accurately (though the "Chainsaw Dance" finale is set on a beach for some reason), and Mazo actually does a better job than at least 2 of the actual Leatherface performers (likewise, whoever did the makeup for this should be brought on to do any future installments of the regular franchise). Writer/Director Enrique Urbizu doesn't stop there though; when Leatherface cuts down a door he makes the exact same pattern that Gunnar Hansen did in the original film. Also, the frequent news reports that we overhear echo those in the first film (i.e. they are all about the discovery of bodies, murders, etc).

I loved this, because I hate when a movie sort of parodies a well known movie killer, but does it completely wrong. Like in The Blob when they go see a faux Jason movie. The mask is all wrong, the style is totally off... it's more distracting than entertaining. But not here; apparently the rights/licenses were not obtained (Nosferatu is in the public domain, so that's the only one they call out by name) but the detail is so accurate even a non-horror fan would probably figure out who the other monsters were.

Another thing that struck me was how much Spanish TV allows in their films (all 6 in this series are TV movies). At one point the girl's teacher picks up a hooker, who goes down on him in his car and then spits his load onto the sidewalk, and the girl's mom is seeing taking it from behind in a broom closet. Plus the murders are pretty gory. Our TV shows might have a lot of profanity, but even on Heroes (possibly the goriest mainstream show of all time) you never see a decapitated head rolling around (for proof, check out the recent decapitation of Universal Studios shirt guy).

I just wish it had been a little better overall. It starts off solid, but it loses steam once the "vampire" reveals his true identity. And then the twist ending really feels like a copout; without spoiling anything, I really was hoping to put this one into a different genre (which would also spoil it, but whatever). Luckily, the movie had earned a lot of goodwill with its horror-fan appealing setup and way above average attention to detail, so I was able to forgive it. It's just a shame that I can't give it a fully positive review, something I thought for sure I would after the first 30-40 minutes had charmed me so.

Another bummer is that I spent half the movie wishing that I had known a 12 year old girl who liked to watch Texas Chain Saw Massacre in her spare time. If this girl was in my 6th or 7th grade class, she surely would have been the first girl to tell me she only liked me as a friend.

There is one aspect about the movie that really struck me as bizarre: the protagonist's insane methods of food storage. At one point, she wants pineapple for her pizza, and retrieves some from under the sink. Who the hell keeps food under the sink? But the really baffling one came early on, when the mom asked if the girl had eaten the "Macaroni salad that was wrapped in tin foil and put in the microwave." What the fuck? Tin foil in the microwave? Macaroni salad kept in anything BUT a fridge? Remind me to never eat anything at this fictional person's home.

The making of is decent, if not essential. Urbizu is clearly a talented guy, and even in this brief look one can tell he cares deeply about all aspects of his production. As with the others, no other features are provided. I would think that there would be deleted scenes on all of them, since they have to fit a certain length to fit on TV (they are all 75 minutes long). Oh well.

What say you?


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