Francis Makes A Friend is mind-trip of a horror short, one with bundles of imagination. Produced and directed by Jake Braden.
The short opens with us hearing Francis (Tristan Szucs) having a phone call with his mother. From this conversation it’s clear he doesn’t have many friends and his mother is a worrier. He’s a college freshman who has been invited to a dinner party, a chance to meet some new people and make some friends.
Everyone is really nice to him and they enjoy food, drinks and conversations. It’s all very pleasant although every so often someone says something that stands out as being a little odd. There’s an eagerness to this group that really gets ramped up when it is time to see the puppets.
Yeah, that probably made you raise your eyebrows but hold on because it’s about to get a hell of a lot weirder and a hell of a lot darker. What we experience is a puppet show that surrounds a man having an affair with a prostitute. He finds out from his doctor that she had given him HIV so gets his revenge by torturing and killing her.
All told with exaggerated voices, trippy music and partly in song. It’s funny but the story being told is very disturbing.
“That fucking whore, she told me she was clean”
After that amazing sequence, it’s time for games and you can see Francis isn’t having a great time anymore. He wants to go home but peer pressure and how nice everyone continues to keep him there.
They begin to play ‘most likely to’ but again, it’s off-base. Who the hell comes up with “most likely to get cancer”? Then we get the dare wheel with such fun things as; choke yourself for 30 seconds, cut your hand and kill the neighbour’s dog. Odd party, very odd party. Sinister synth music and quick cuts makes this segment very intense.
Unfortunately for Francis his desire to leave sees him taking a drink of the ‘spirit juice’ resulting in a very bad final few minutes for him.
A great horror short, it creates much mystery and intrigue much of which remains unanswered by the end. It’s not frustrating though as it allows you to fill in the blanks yourself. Was it just too many drinks for Francis? Or something way more sinister?
Well shot for being on a budget, the performances are also a quite good. Baring a wooden line of dialogue here and there. The trippy visuals work well giving the impression of drunkeness. Although a weird looking alien CGI thing that pops up probably could have been left out. Still, a thoroughly enjoyable horror short. That puppet sequence makes it worth watching alone!
Francis Makes A Friend (2019)
The Final Score - 7/10