In today’s era of short attention spans and video posts, friendship has gained a different meaning. We work our way through social circles by being present for each other through social media. Our virtual relationships have also earned significance as much as our real-life interactions. Set in these weirdly distant times, Scooter Corkle’s sci-fi horror film – ‘The Friendship Game’ attempts to explore something similar through his acid trip-like narration – even if it oftentimes seems like a way to mask its flaws! 

The screenplay by Damien Ober follows a group of teenagers in a small town who discover a strange, magical object that makes them contemplate the strength of friendship. It stars Peyton List, Kaitlyn Santa Juana, Kelcey Maqema, and Brendan Meyer in the central roles and is now available to watch on Hulu.

*Spoilers ahead* 

The Friendship Game (2022) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is ‘The Friendship Game’ about?

‘The Friendship Game’ is about four friends who take part in a game that tests the strength of their friendship. Cotton (Kaitlyn Santa Juana), Susan / Zooza / Z (Peyton List), Courtney / Court (Kelcey Mawema), and Rob (Brendan Meyer) are these four friends who live in a small suburban town. In a yard sale, Cotton comes across a black object next to an old woman. This woman explains that it is a game to test whether the friendships are true. The rule is – that friends who sit around it need to place their fingers on it and share their deepest, innermost desires. ‘Do you know who your friends are,’ she asks. 

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At a different time, we see Kyle Jr. (Dylan Schombing) keeping creepy surveillance on kids of his age. On the other hand, we see Zooza feel sad that it’s their last summer together. Cotton invites her, Courtney, and Rob to play the friendship game. They will win by staying friends after playing it. After a bit of convincing, everyone put their hands on the black object. Then, Cotton asks them to share their innermost desires and expects them to be truthful. Kyle sees all of this on his computer by getting the footage from Cotton’s webcam. 

Cotton

Cotton starts speaking about her deepest feelings. She feels sad by the sense of time slipping away from their hands. It dawns upon her that they are not kids anymore and will have to enter the monotonous cycle of adulthood. She wishes to break out of that reality. Later, they happen to be at a party together. Cotton cannot find Rob and Zooza. She worries they can’t be together. Courtney does not worry about it much. Instead, she wants Cotton to have some pills and enjoy. But Cotton is in distress and not in a mood to indulge in drugs. She walks back inside to find Rob and Zooza being intimate with each other. 

Once back in her car, Cotton tears their group photo and keeps thinking of her quote – ‘They stay friends, no matter what.’ The next moment, she imagines herself getting choked by herself / another sitting in the back seat. After this incident, she goes missing. Kyle sees posters about her and rides his bike back home. His mother worries about what he does all day if he does not attend the day camp. He does not respond to her. Back in his room, he looks at Cotton in her room. The video suddenly starts getting pixelated. That’s when she looks directly into the camera – as if she can see Kyle on the other side. 

Zooza

At the party, Courtney gets wasted with Rob and Zooza. But Cotton is not with them. While being drunk, Rob starts approaching Zooza for a kiss. But that doesn’t happen. Outside, he blabbers on about the insignificance of their existence in the infinite universe. He poses the possibility of an infinite number of realities. Maybe he just wants to get laid. On the contrary, Zooza does not want the summer to last, i.e., she wants their present reality to end. She fears they will grow apart because of their different life trajectories. Rob says they will be friends no matter what. 

The tender moment eventually ends with the two sharing a kiss. This kiss eventually leads Rob to try to have sex with her even when he does not have a condom. Zooza gets away from him and goes to the washroom. In the mirror, she starts seeing a version of her room with a strange, black object. It rotates, and she falls unconscious. Later, back at her place, police detective Modari (Miranda Edwards) asks her questions about Cotton’s disappearance. Even if they were best friends, Zooza does not know where Cotton went the night of the trash house party. 

Zooza cannot answer what may have put her at odds with Cotton. Zooza’s mother reveals that Zooza started taking pain meds after her dad left. Unlike her, Courtney feels Cotton isn’t just missing but dead. Zooza makes Cotton’s disappearance about herself and laments her misery over what Cotton did to her life. While working at a bumper car crash racing game, she hears the word – Susan. She walks inside a maze-like structure to see herself back in her room. Cotton’s voice still reminds her to tell the truth. On the TV screen, Cotton asks if their friendship survived. Zooza imagines herself bleeding but then returns to reality.

Rob tries to be close to Zooza again. But Cotton’s disappearance also messes up their friendship for her. Back home, Zooza’s mother tries to make Zooza not feel guilty for Cotton or her father leaving. She does not want Zooza to think it was her fault. But Zooza ends up making her mother feel sad. Later at night, Donna texts her to ask if she can babysit Kyle for the night. Zooza says she is busy.

Courtney

A still from The Friendship Game (2022).
A still from The Friendship Game (2022).

During the friendship game, Courtney says her deepest desire is to get into Oregon University. After Cotton goes missing during the party, Courtney receives an acceptance letter from Oregon. So, she believes the black object did have some powers to turn their desires into truth. That is why she thinks Cotton is dead because she wishes to break out of her reality. She argues with Zooza about it. Then, she returns home to notice Cotton in her fantasy. Suddenly, she imagines Cotton stabbing her. But it was just her imagination, asking if their friendship survived after the game.

Rob

Zooza starts ignoring Rob after the party, which frustrates him. He wanders off on his own to the trash house during the day. He imagines Cotton walking around in the basement. When he catches up to her, she questions him about the fate of their friendship. He also imagines himself bleeding as Zooza and Courtney did. Right after, he drives his car to a farm and sneaks inside Cotton’s house. He eventually gets hold of the friendship game black object. Kyle monitors Cotton’s room and sees Cotton looking directly into the camera and then approaching him. It creeps him out. 

That night, Zooza decides to babysit Kyle and goes to his house. After Kyle’s mother leaves, Rob and Court arrive there with the friendship game. Rob also thinks the game makes their wishes come true. This time, he wants everyone to be truthful and try playing the game again. He says he wants to know what happened to Cotton. Courtney says the same thing, and then Zooza does, too. The object starts vibrating, and it bites them. While Courtney is about to leave, they all hear buzzing in their phones. Kyle manages to do this and shows them the video footage from the time they played the game in Cotton’s room.  

At the time, Zooza spoke about how bad she felt that all her friends would be leaving the town soon. So, she wished she would not care when they would leave. In the present, they figure Kyle is behind the hacking into Cotton’s webcam. She goes into his room to find him busy on his computer. While he does not even take his eyes off the screen, she tries to have a small talk. They connect over the loss of their fathers. She eventually brings him to watch a horror film together. Rob sneaks into his room to see a series of videos from Cotton’s room. It also includes a guy having sex with her. Rob realizes that this guy is him.   

The Friendship Game (2022) Movie Ending Explained:

Who survives The Friendship Game?

Rob returns to Zooza and reveals that Cotton walked up on them when they were having sex. He believes that’s why she decided to leave. That’s when Zooza realizes that he and Cotton were sleeping together. While he starts scaring her, Courtney goes through weird visions in the bathroom. Zooza walks in and closes the door on Rob. They both realize that Rob tried to have sex with both of them during the party. Meanwhile, Rob walks out into the garden with a torch to find Kyle standing in the middle, strangely staring somewhere. Rob looks in that direction to find bloodied Cotton lying in the pond. 

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Rob jumps back into Kyle’s room to find a video titled – ‘Cotton, Murdered.’ On the other hand, Zooza notices the friendship game thingy rotating fast. She recalls a dialogue she had with Cotton at the party. Cotton mentioned that she saw Zooza with Rob. She said her car was packed and that she was leaving the town. That’s when she blamed Zooza for making her take this step.

Zooza punched her so hard and bumped her into the car window. Meanwhile, Rob recalls him having stabbed Cotton at the time. In the present, he walks in and also stabs Courtney. He follows Zooza to stab her. Then suddenly, Zooza starts feeling guilty since Cotton keeps blaming her for whatever transpired between them.  

In the end, we see the first scene over again. Only this time, Zooza assuredly says that her friendship with Cotton does not need any testing. Cotton still asks her what her deepest desire is. She says she wants to be with her friends forever. We see the old woman look at them. Her image flickers, as Cotton’s image did in Kyle’s footage. After that, she gets some older women to try this dangerous game. So, ultimately, the film makes no profound point. It just tries to explore the fickle nature of modern-age friendship – where the younger generation refuses to express their true emotions or desires. So, everyone knows very little about everyone, even when they are supposedly friends. 

Read More: Everything Coming to Hulu in September 2023

The Friendship Game (2022) Movie Trailer

The Friendship Game (2022) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
The Friendship Game (2022) Movie Cast: Peyton List, Brendan Meyer, Kelcey Mawema
Where to watch The Friendship Game

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