From director/producer Jake Braden comes Francis Makes a Friend—a strange, twisted tale of potlucks, puppetry, and party games. The film follows Francis, a socially awkward introvert, as he attends a college “potluck” with his new friend, Alex. What Francis fails to realise is that Alex’s friends like to party a little harder than they let on.
In all honesty, I wasn’t feeling the film at the start. The acting seemed very amateur and the interaction between the characters was cringy at best and forced at worst. I understood that it was meant to be intentionally uncomfortable due to the nature of the protagonist, but that doesn’t change the fact that it made me feel awkward. It had a similar feel and plot to a lot of shorts that I’d seen before and I was quickly losing interest…and then there’s a sudden sucker punch—a change in gear so unexpected that you have no choice but to give the film your entire, irrepressible attention: a puppet show!
The film’s acts are neatly divided into “phases,” with each adding a layer of foreboding, raising curiosity and building suspense all the while leaving you with that idea in the back of your head that something just doesn’t seem right. As the college party does the typical downward spiral that one typically expects of college parties, things become progressively more appalling for our angsty antagonist.
There is a lot that I want to say about the film’s final chapters, but that would, unfortunately, be giving a bit too much away. I was initially underwhelmed at the start of the film, having seen too much of the same in the past, but the mid to late scenes really made up for it, allowing one to understand the complete vision that Braden was going for. He ultimately does a pretty good job of letting you see through the eyes of the socially awkward while tying in horror tropes in a pretty unique way.
Francis Makes a Friend is not without its technical issues and monetary limitations, but it makes up for those in very unique, colourful ways. The editing was amazing and I fell in love with the puppet show and the smidgen of stop animation used oh-so-well. It’ll do well on the circuit for sure, especially appealing to those fresh out of varsity and familiar with the culture that the film reflects. I cannnot, unfortunately, share anything more with you at the moment, but once the film has done its rounds on the indie circuit, perhaps we can add it to our collection of other short films. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid.
P.S. That puppet show could be its own short film. 10/10. It’s the reason the short gets a 4/5.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.