Criticism | Damn Friendship – ‘The Hidden Friend’ and ‘Babadook’ lack weight

With the appearance of a B horror film, the Canadian production Amizade Maldita (Portuguese title of the most enigmatic “ Z ”) is in fact a prestigious work, having crossed several festivals specialized in the genre, by the USA, the UK and Canada (were 6 in all), in which he was nominated for 17 awards, winning 9 of them. In other words, although unknown to the general public, without famous names in front of or behind the cameras, the feature film has had some baggage since its debut on June 1, 2019 at the Overlook Festival (yes, that’s the name of the hotel in O Iluminado). And now, Imagem Filmes is investing in the product, launching it in the Brazilian market exclusively in theaters from December 3. A full plate for the fans.

Despite all the hype and glamor, Amizade Maldita has a straightforward plot, which you’ll likely recognize from other recent films in the genre. At first, we noticed the influence of the sub-genre “children of macabre” – where the film is sold in all its advertising pieces – referring to real classics such as Le Village des damnés (1960) and A Prophecy ( 1976), for example. In the plot written Colin Minihan in partnership with Brandon Christensen (also the director of the film), we have a family from one of these margarine commercials, in which the members are mother Beth (Keegan Connor Tracy), father Kevin (Sean Rogerson) and little Joshua (Jett Klyne). Oh yeah, we also have the catatonic grandma in a bed (Deborah Ferguson) and the young aunt (Sara Canning).

Initially, trying to figure out the “game” here, the question remains: does Joshua really have the gifts of O Sixth Sense’s little boy (1999) and is he able to communicate with his imaginary new best friend. , named Z, a hideous entity; or everything is part of his own psychology and it is the boy who commits terrible and violent acts, which terrify his classmates and the teacher who asks for an urgent meeting with his parents. Gradually, Z has an increasing influence on the boy’s behavior, in addition to starting to introduce himself into the family dynamic. The mother, as always in films like this, is the first to notice the presence of the “classmate”, even directly and very physically. But that’s where we found the first big turnaround we expected and knew it would happen. The mother’s contact is not free.

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Without going into spoiler territory, one of the steps the family has taken is to treat Joshua with former family psychologist Dr. Seager (role of great actor-character Stephen McHattie). In this consultation, the doctor ends up finding, through the name of this imaginary friend, a trigger for an old case, involving Beth and her childhood. Therefore, the film changes pilot and the message is now deeper, with real themes such as schizophrenia and past trauma, buried in the subconscious. Despite this, we cannot fail to notice many tangible similarities with films such as O Babadook (2014), O Amigo Oculto (2005) and Boa Noite, Mamãe (2014).

Amizade Maldita is an enigmatic film that can be read in two ways – or perhaps a few more performances – promising to appeal to more fans of the genre who like to fill in the gaps left in interpretations (the so-called ‘terror of the art ”), even if it does not disappoint the youngest, whose fascination lies in fears and in a type of production more intended for all audiences. In this second, more direct option, the absence of a clear result can leave the viewer wanting more.

Christensen manages to create a cool vibe, even though he relies too much on his soundtrack to guarantee the scares – with two scenes that stand out, carefully crafted to freeze our spine (the boy on the stairs and the one in the tub) . What Amizade Maldita lacked in order for the feature film to truly reach the level of a great work of the genre is greater development in the personal dramas of the characters, painted for those who are attentive, and performances that show more of those strong emotional moments – an element in which a large part of the cast, still very green, does not succeed to the point of really hooking us. The highlight here is protagonist Tracy, the most experienced in the cast.

Amizade Maldita is a good example of the genre, but one which is far from striking enough to write his name alongside the current pantheon of terror: works by people like Robert Eggers, Ari Aster, Jordan Peele or even James Wan. . Below is an analysis and meanings of some of the film’s themes, along with SPOILERS.


For a more in-depth analysis, we need to discuss some themes that the feature offers, but which are an essential part of the plot and contain important secrets. Therefore, continue after watching the movie, or at your own risk.

As noted, the story, in its first big turnaround, shows that Z’s contact, the imaginary figure, with this family comes long before boy Joshua, and his still-child mother Beth, had him as his best. secret friend. The girl is even seen in a video recording saying that Z wanted to marry her when she was an adult. Such statements forced her parents to activate the red alert and begin psychological treatment with the girl, with the same Dr. Seager. It is not clear exactly what triggered the appearance of the fictional figure in the young girl’s life, but the few exchanges Beth has with her catatonic mother, who is trapped in a bed, may demonstrate a troubled relationship between the two. . That is, if we follow the psychological aspect, that everything was always in the head of the mother and the child, the only ones able to see the creature, we can interpret the point of view of the entity as hereditary schizophrenia. . A disease transmitted from mother to child.

In the United States, some critics have opted for a more direct interpretation, comparing the film to the classic Poltergeist, where a family is plagued by supernatural events. And if we go that route, we’ll notice the absence of a larger, more detailed stitching that truly satisfies the directors’ intention – with a very simplistic path and resolution, and without a lot of surprises. It is precisely for this reason that I prefer to believe in the first interpretation, which is more desperate, real and difficult to process. In which the metaphorical monster which, if left untreated, will always be hidden. Even this narrative resolution is not that complex to perceive, being a very tangible access analogy.

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