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A High School Reunion Hack-Em-Up in All Your Friends Are Dead

Images Courtesy of Ricky Glore

I first saw the trailer for Ricky Glore’s All Your Friends Are Dead a few months ago while doing my job and seeking out new and fascinating material for Horror Obsessive. The premise was interesting, “What if a teen slasher film grew up?” I gawked for a second when I saw it, then thought about it. We rarely get slasher films that physically or thematically deal with the horrors outside of those teenage sagas. Sure, Jamie Lee Curtis is still fighting Michael Myers with a healthy bit of PTSD, and Neve Campbell may live to see another fight with Ghostface in the Scream franchise. Yet Halloween (2018) and Scream 5 still have teenage slasher elements that continue that storied tradition. All Your Friends Are Dead isn’t like those films. Maybe it borrows some things from the likes of Friday the 13th and The Town that Dreaded Sundown in aesthetics, but the concept is somewhat bold when considered.  

The poster for All Your Friends Are Dead shows five faces with crossed out eyes, and a character with a dumbfounded face with a machete wielding masked man behind him
Image courtesy of The NKY

All Your Friends Are Dead attends to the lowly Matt “Will Be Great” Willbee as he struggles to survive another day of loneliness, depression, and alcoholism. Accoladed as the most likely to succeed in high school, seventeen years later, things haven’t quite gone Matt’s way. Working under the table at a local brewery, he gets his fill of the customers’ half-finished beers as he busses their tables. Potential clients of his landscaping business, who knew him from his glory days on the football team, call him to laugh at the out-of-shape trainwreck that stands before them. And his school friend, who works at the bank, is about to foreclose on his house. As the walls close in on Matt, he decides to inform his old high-school crew, The Wolf Pack, that he’s going to end his life in the last place he felt happy. Venturing out to the campsite they spent a weekend at the summer before leaving for college, the pack arrives just in time to save Matt from himself, but a masked killer begins stalking the group in the woods.  

Let’s discuss the elephant in the room. All Your Friends Are Dead is a microbudget feature meaning this cast and crew worked tirelessly to put this production together. The result is a lo-fi achievement, so expectations should not be on par with larger budgeted films with exorbitant resources. These actors are new to film, though you can see some of them have had some training, theater or otherwise. Some scenes work better than others, just as some technical aspects could be tighter, too. Regardless, I can confidently proclaim the film is better than a handful of recent studio releases and filled with much more heart.  

Matt sits on the tailgate of his truck in front of a house in All Your Friends Are Dead
Image Courtesy of Ricky Glore

Glore is new to a lot of this. A stand-up comedian best known on the internet for creating the “Explain A Movie Plot Badly” account, you have to give the guy a lot of credit just for trying. And it’s an impressive effort on what seems to be minimal filmmaking experience. It isn’t easy to embark on passion projects, and Glore has accomplished it multiple times, with stand-up and now by finishing a feature film. Financed through a Kickstarter campaign, All Your Friends Are Dead nearly doubled its goal in October of last year and is about to have its premiere at the Port of Fear Film Festival in Kenosha, WI, on July 30. 

So, how does it stack up? I laughed riotously at the situational comedy in Glore’s film. It has some great sight gags and even better observational humor. Playing heavy into the aspect of high-school potential and the regret of feeling your best days are behind you. These are circumstances we’ve all been through, almost like a rite-of-passage, with those off-putting cheerful types of people not understanding they’ve shown up in our lives when we’re mired in our own self-loathing. Matt’s restraint during these encounters when he’s at the end of his rope (dark pun intended), especially as he responds in an annoyed fashion to a hardware store salesman’s incessant questioning, and generating a comparison to the grumpiness of Stranger Things‘ David Harbour. This is the type of literal gallows humor you can’t help but laughably connect with. 

As a massive fan of mental health horror and an advocate for its destigmatization, All Your Friends Are Dead offers a true-to-life look at depression. Matt is at the age where his friends have moved on and focused on their families or careers. Feeling somewhat abandoned, he doesn’t know how to ask for help and, even more so, doesn’t feel worthy of a response. Glore has created a fantastically well-rounded character in Matt, and the empathy he garners is a huge reason the movie works as well as it does.

Sarah, Linda, Larry, and Matt stand in frond of a cord of wood at a campsite in All Your Friends Are Dead
Image Courtesy of Ricky Glore

As a thirtysomething myself, I guess it’s funny to see my generation represented in the slasher genre, even though people my age have been playing teenagers in these types of films for decades. It’s entertaining to see a horror-comedy addressing that without becoming a full-on spoof like the Scary Movie films. Your thirties can be pivotal in transforming yourself into the person you want to become and the avenues you choose to accomplish those forgotten teenage goals. In Matt’s case, it’s a grim transformation. 

As for the other characters, most seem to fit into archetypes of their youth, like if The Breakfast Club had a Big Chill reunion. That makes it rather strange to see the film shift into horror, fitting into the genre for only about a third of the feature’s runtime. The acts are boxed rather neatly, and you can almost determine the definitive checkpoints. The first two acts are very morose, darkly humorous, and entertaining in their own way, with the body count starting later in the feature. Ultimately, I’m not entirely certain that the movie needed to be a horror film and could have thrived as a dramedy. Still, Glore and company have a lot of fun setting these kills in motion, and the practical effects pieces are sublime. Once the killing starts, it’s a blood-soaked rampage filled with comedic chaos until the final frame.  

All Your Friends Are Dead’s mystery is a bit of another story. We know what’s going to happen in the first act, but that’s typical of most slasher films anyway. Audiences will know the final act’s “twist” long before the killer is revealed. It’s a moot point anyway because the story is so good, Matt is a fantastically relatable character, and Glore is a fantastic lead, charming, funny, and very expressive. While Glore may need to refine some aspects of his screenplay writing, this was an excellent debut for the comedian all the way around. And, though it’s completely unnecessary, I kind of hope he has an idea for an over-the-top sequel.  

Sarah's mouth is covered by a masked man holding her head against a tree in All Your Friends Are Dead
Image Courtesy of Ricky Glore

I go into many independent and low-budget features with an open mind, often expecting the result to be a toss-up, but All Your Friends are Dead exceeded many of my expectations, offering an engaging story and a fun ending. Go with the flow on this one, it won’t be your favorite new slasher film or anything like that, but it’s a very charming film that genre fans will find an appreciation for. 

All Your Friends Are Dead is coming soon. As previously stated, the movie will screen as part of the Port of Fear Film Festival, and limited edition Blu-Rays are still available through the Kickstarter campaign.

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Written by Sean Parker

Sean lives just outside of Boston and loves all things horror.

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