There are so many shorts at this year’s Boston Underground Film Festival, it was hard to choose only a few to review. After checking out the Futuristic Wrist Watch music video I Owe You One Banana And Two Black Eyes (read the review here) for the fest, I had no idea what I was walking into with the others. When I saw that the short Let’s Be Friends had a creepy toy named Beadie, I knew I had to see it.
This UConn Film Club Production was created by a three Connecticut natives – Ryan Glista (Opening Night 2017) and Exit’s (2018) Matt Bilmes and Alex Rouleau. Glista directed, edited and co-wrote the short along with Producer Matt Bilmes, while Rouleau worked as DoP. Katt Folker drove the puppet in her film debut. The short stars Tyler Williamson (Menagerie 2018) as Connor, Thomas Meacham (Snakepit 2019) as Connor’s dad, debut actor Akash Abhilash as Connor’s friend, Will, and Atticus Burrello (Blue Bloods TV series) as the bully, Dan.
Connor, the new kid in school, is a lonely boy whose only friend is a stuffed toy named Beadie. When Conner brings Beadie to school, despite his father’s warnings, a run-in with a bully leads to horrific consequences.
Let’s Be Friends starts off sweetly, with a well-loved stuffed animal waking up his best friend, Connor (who looks like Millie Bobby Brown in the first season of Stranger Things), to help him get ready for school. Beadie lovingly brushes Connor’s teeth, washes his face and combs his hair. Everything seems fine… until Dad calls Connor out for trying to sneak Beadie to his new school in his backpack. Dad is afraid that his Middle School student is a bit too old to be playing with dolls, and thinks he’ll get picked on for it. Unfortunately for Connor, dad is right. When Beadie is discovered by the bullies on the bus, not even the best toymaker in the world can save him. But does Beadie need saving? Does Connor need Beadie? You’ll have to watch the short to find out.
It’s never specified if Beadie’s movements are a part of Connor’s imagination in the time before he’s confronted by the bully. No one seems shocked that Beadie can do the things he does, so it makes me wonder if only Connor can see them. They can certainly hear him talk. His sweet repetition of “Let’s be friends!” does get him a lot of attention, especially after his incident on the bus, when his singsong voice mutates to something grotesque. How Beadie gets his revenge on the bully is satisfying to the watcher, but the repercussions may be too much for Connor to take.
If you’re into creepy toys and revenge, look no further than Let’s Be Friends.