INDIE REPORT – BESTIES
Review by Justin Bowler
A well-produced coming of age story wrapped up in a murder plot.
”Besties” is a story about a young girl and the babysitter she’s idolized for years that become immersed in a manipulative and deadly friendship. Written and directed by Rebecca Perry Cutter.
I love indie films because they tackle subject matter in a new and refreshing perspective, since they are not victims to the constraints of Hollywood box-heads (You know who you are, Box-heads). They can be complex, cross genres, cast unlikely actors, and do all of that with complete freedom.
“Besties” is just that. Cutter has created a personal story of teenage awkwardness wrapped up in a near suspense thriller about two girls who have committed a murder (That’s not too much of a spoiler. Although, I am sure you have not seen the trailer, but, it happens in the first 15 minutes) (There are no spoilers when it comes to the first 15 minutes of any film).
Madison Riley gets top billing, and she is wonderfully sexy, appropriately mean for her age, and charming/concerned when she needs to be, as the idolized “hot” girl who lives next door (I can imagine the original casting description now, asking for a young Heather Graham). Riley delivers. But the true kudos of the film go to actress Olivia Crocicchia as Sandy. Crocicchia (I really hope I spelled that right) is awkward and likable, like any nice 14-year old struggling with the pains of teenage years and teenage life. Obsessed with her next door neighbor and her “cool” and “dangerous” ways, Crocicchia easily plays the part of the well-raised girl, who knows right from wrong, but desperately wants to be as likable/desirable as her idol. Her subtle performance is very reminiscent of Ellen Paige (Paige is with an “i”, right?).
Another standout is Corin Nemec as Sandy’s concerned and well-intentioned father, who, with only a few scenes, manages to create full and rich awareness and love for his daughter’s awkward time.
(Insert clever transition here)
Indies often get stuck in the looks of “real people” and are forced to think outside of the box. So, many times relatives of the lead don’t look anything like each other. Jackie Debatin, with just a flash or two on screen, is 100% believable as Ashley’s mother, Terry. To say nothing of her great demeanor and acting skill, Jackie looked the part to the Nth degree.
Overall, many parts of this indie intrigued me. First, the idea of creating a coming-of-age story behind the plot point of a murder: this is simply a brilliant hook for an indie (Furthermore, it is something that, primarily, would only be accepted in an indie). Second, the producers were brilliant in peppering actors we have seen before on TV in tiny little moments that require just a smidgen (does anyone still use that word beside me?) of the actor’s time on set. Third, all the while, tempting us with the sex appeal of Ashley (Madison Riley’s character) (Hey, I just noticed that if you say the character name and the first name of the actress, you get the name of that website for adulterers “Ashley Madison” (Intentional filmmaker secret?)). The sex appeal of Ashley’s character from the POV of our young lead (Olivia Crocicchia) further illustrates her confusing idolatry of Madison. I look at this film from a producer’s point of view and it is brilliant in it’s execution. It is an honest-to-God indie, yet it appeals to distributors. They look at it and say “I know exactly how to market this” (Well, good ones will say that. Others will simply say “You should have made it a horror film”). My only gripe with the film is that I saw it in SD. The producers did a lot of hard work, so be sure to view the film on Amazon Prime, which has an HD version for rent (But, if that is my ONLY gripe, then it’s pretty much a win for the producers).
Overall, I give this film 3 stars, out of four, for non-indie fans – ***
I give it 3.5 stars, out of four, for indie fans – ***1/2
Go check it out. BOOM!
Your Indie Film Reviewer,
Justin T. Bowler
“Besties” is available on AMAZON.
Editor’s Note: There is no “i” in “Ellen Page”.