Kristen Dragotto, Staff Writer

Directed by Paul Feig and starring Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively and Henry Golding, “A Simple Favor” has made its debut as a mystery-comedy. Unlike the classic mystery-comedies that may come to mind like “Murder by Death” or “Clue,” this movie has a darker and edgier spin. It is the darker side of this film that is absolutely chilling.

The movie is about a widowed, single mother Stephanie Smothers, played by Anna Kendrick, a self-made vlogger who starts an investigation when her best friend Emily Nelson, played by Blake Lively, disappears without a trace. Emily’s dark past and secrets lead Stephanie to discover she may not know her best friend as well as she thought she did. She also discovers that Emily’s husband doesn’t know about her secretive past either.

“A Simple Favor” takes its audience on a mind-trip. The typical-thriller aspects usually seen in mystery movies were randomly placed, shocking the audience and causing unsettling anticipation. However, those qualities were on the borderline of being overdone. It is important to keep the audience on their toes, but it should not leave the audience unable to grasp what is taking place.

It is the overdone plot twists that show how the storyline was lost in translation from becoming a book to a film. When comparing the two side-by-side they are drastically different. The movie changed or added things to the film that completely altered key aspects of the storyline. Although screenwriter Jessica Sharzer did a good job, one couldn’t help but feel something was missing and too much was added to compensate for that. The actors did an astounding job for the material they were given but the movie itself had one too many loose ends and left the audience confused.

The movie did earn its R rating, with three sex scenes, incest and explicit language. I am not one to be easily offended but these qualities were so overdone as to give the movie an unnatural feel. For example, the explicit language felt forced and overdone. It is almost as if Jessica Sharzer could not think of anything better to write. “A Simple Favor” is not the typical family mystery-comedy that we have seen in the past. This movie did however present a more edgier side of Kendrick and Lively that was surprisingly refreshing.

Although the movie was entertaining it failed to meet the expectations of the trailer. The hype of Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick coming together for this film was a disappointment. If the storyline had followed the book I have no doubt there would be a different outcome for this movie. Overall, my recommendation is to just rent the movie at Redbox or on Amazon instead of paying $10 to see it at the theater.