I completely enjoyed Deadly Friend for what it was, even if at times I couldn't actually figure out what it was. Earlier scenes make the film look like a sweet story about a boy and his robot; then it becomes some whacky sci-fi/science-gone-wrong thing; then it's about a teenage robot-zombie girl on a murder spree. But the tone is all wrong, or at least wrong from what you think it would be. The film has a strange plot that should be easy to make fun of, but despite the fact that there are some funny moments, the tone of the film is not that comedic. Instead it is a pretty sad and heartbreaking movie that really takes itself seriously.
Another dream sequence is quite clearly in reference to Nightmare on Elm Street. After Sam has killed... um, somebody (resisting spoilers is hard), Paul must dispose of the body. Later on that night, Paul dreams of a strange round object moving around under the covers. When he pulls back the blanket, the round thing is the burnt head of Sam's victim, and the body comes out of the mattress and is just about to attack Paul when he wakes up. The reference is obvious and fun for Nightmare fans, but I wonder how it played out for audiences who had just seen the first Nightmare only two years prior.
Of course, one cannot talk about Deadly Friend without mentioning the word "basketball." Watch the video below to find out why. And if you already know why, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't mind seeing it again:
That's definitely a movie moment where you have to either stop or rewind the flick because you're too busy almost dying with laughter. As a scene that comes completely out of left field from what we have so far come to expect in this movie, it is a more than welcome surprise - even if it doesn't particularly fit with the rest of the rather tame killings in the film. The fact the victim in question is the great Anne Ramsey also makes this a standout sequence.
I also didn't particularly care for the shock ending, even though it is left a little open to interpretation that this could be a dream sequence as well. The first ending was sad enough and brought the story to the right conclusion, so this shock ending was really not needed. All in all, I can't seem to help the fact that I really liked Deadly Friend. It walks a fine line between B-movie stupidity and a genuinely well-told tale, and I guess if anybody could pull that off, it would be my man Wes Craven.