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Review: Letia Clouston & Jamie Bernadette’s “The 6th Friend”

In Theaters This Friday!

I first discovered Jamie Bernadette back in 2012 when she was co-starring in a film titled Reel Evil. I don’t remember much about that movie seven years later, honestly, but I do remember I was struck by Jamie’s appearance and talent, and I vividly recall wondering why she hadn’t received a bigger part. Who knew, seven years later, that she would be the one to “make it,” with headlining roles in The Bunnyman Massacre, The LA Slasher, All Girls Weekend, 4/20 Massacre, the upcoming I Spit on Your Grave installment, and guest appearances on hit television shows like “Midnight Texas” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” It’s not that Jamie isn’t talented, it’s because there’s a treasure trove of women working their asses off to be the next big scream queen. However, Ms. Bernadette has always exuded a charm and emotional range that’s far beyond her years, and an undeniable, almost subconscious edge that gives her a leg up on the competition. So it’s no surprise to me that not only is she the star of The 6th Friend, but she also worked behind the scenes as co-writer and producer. If there ever was a challenge to set a performer, a creator from the pack, it’s the difficult task of juggling all these integral parts at once. Needless to say, horror movies are paying Jamie’s bills, but I can’t help but feel like she has a genuine love for the genre. And, more importantly, she understands and executes exactly what the fans want. That’s on display here, in The 6th Friend, which is due for a theatrical release on January 11, 2019.

The 6th Friend is a proper title, but it’s also somewhat of a metaphor. In the film, a small group of friends – all female – get together for a night of fun, and test the boundaries of their psyche by trying mind-altering drugs. When the designated sober friend – a man – takes one of the girls into the bedroom, it sets off all the alarms and whistles. When the rest of the group sobers up and breaks down the door, they’re horrified to find the masked man raping their friend. A scuffle ensues, and the man dies. Five years later, the group comes together again for a weekend retreat at a cabin in the woods because one of their own, Joey (Jamie Bernadette), isn’t handling life well post-rape discovery and post-self defense murder. She can’t eat. She can’t sleep, and when she looks out the window at night she sees the ghost of the dead man outside her house. Only it’s not just Joey. All the other girls are seeing him, too. Are they being haunted, or hunted? The get-away quickly dives into a bloody disaster when a killer, wearing the same mask from their previous trauma, begins picking them off one by one. Is the uninvited guest a figment of their imagination, a ghost, or a walking-talking psychopath out for revenge? Jamie Bernadette, Chantelle Albers, Dominique Swain, Jessica Morris, Tania Nolan, Monique Rosario and David Villada star in The 6th Friend, from director Letia Clouston.

As with All Girls Weekend, Bernadette is really throwing her hat into making original, female-driven horror films. While The 6th Friend is highly recommended to all demographics, this one is especially delicious for women who love horror. What’s pointed, especially in today’s age, is the film’s take on building each other up and sticking together as women. As said in the movie, women make up half the population, but only take up 2% of government chairs. It’s because they beat each other down more than they raise each other up. What better way to drive this point home than with a man coming in to ruin the day and attempt to end their lives. I’m not even being sarcastic when I say it’s the perfect vehicle for this subtext and theme, and it’s hidden covertly in a supernatural slasher flick. The 6th Friend is far from overly social and political, but it’s definitely a film with a message. Women are fiercer than any man when they work together. And going back to my point about Bernadette knowing what the fans want, this is even more-so shown in a pivotal scene where the women band together, grab a gun, and attempt to flee the cabin as a cohesive group. The typical “let’s split up” stereotype, and all others in this category, are voided in respect for real character development and intelligent fight for survival. #yasqueens

And the horror and mystery holds up the whole way through. There’s a ton of build up with suspense, too. Because it would be too obvious that the friend returned from the dead, right? Right?! You’ll be questioning that motive throughout the entire movie, which throws The 6th Friend in that traditional slasher route where you don’t know who the killer is until the very end. Layering on the supernatural aspects enriched the story content while simultaneously making this movie more appealing to horror and science fiction fans. Director Letia Clouston and Jamie Bernadette were absolutely the right duo to tackle this idea, and they were aided in the endeavor by producer Chantell Albers and co-producers Jim Towns and Benjamin Goalabre; as well as cinematographer Chris Burgon and editor Frank Lucatourto. Shot for Sommer Leigh Studios and releasing to theaters on January 11, 2019 via The Asylum, The 6th Friend is a supernatural slasher with women working in front of and behind the camera. That’s something we can all cheer for, and I sincerely hope this film is still in theaters during Women in Horror Month. A horror film with an average body count, a trippy story, and a deeper meaning awaits you in The 6th Friend. It’s expertly produced and features an incredible cast. This is a win-win, folks. It’s eerie, intimidating and immersed in true talent. Final Score: 8 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)