"All My Friends Hate Me"
review by Diablo Joe
In theaters now on digital March 25th!
"All My Friends Hate Me"
"All My Friends Hate Me" may not BE a horror film in the familiar sense, but this achingly excruciating black comedy somehow manages to evoke more dread and discomfort than some of the worst genre movies out there.
And it does it very, very well.
Self-described former life-of-the-party Pete is turning 31. After years away from the posh group of friends he rolled with back in the day, he's invited off for a weekend reunion— supposedly in his honor—at the lavish English country estate of one of his former mates. But rejoining the pack he once called his own, Pete finds that his once favored status may not be so secure. As the weekend rages on, he beings to feel his friends have turned against him and that the whole affair may just be a twisted joke with Pete as both punchline and punching bag.
The brainchild of writers Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton (the latter pulling acting duty as the hapless Pete), "All My Friends Hate Me" is the kind of film that hits painfully close to the bone in ways we don't want to admit. Like it or not (and most assuredly, you'll say "not"), everyone has found themselves in a situation where the proceedings have become so uncomfortable that you just want to curl into a ball and make the world go away. The pair of Toms, along with director Andrew Gaynord, have captured this universal uneasiness with devilishly savage humor because their film is as hilarious as it is disquieting.
The movie's superb cast in no small part aids this success. Stourton introduces us to Pete as blissfully in love with his girlfriend Sonia, singing madly along with the Doobie Brothers on the way to see his fondly remembered friends. He's just the sort of guy you'd want to hang with. But as the weekend's events sour, and it seems Pete is the brunt of some sick joke, Stourton brings out the less-than-selfless side of his character. He’s the lynchpin of the film. We have to like, dislike, and identify with him, often all at once, and Stourton makes it seamless.
As his group of former friends, the notable standouts are Graham Dickinson as Archie and Antonia Clarke as Claire. Dickinson's Archie is the epitome of unctuous upper-class twat. Sniveling, privileged, and hedonistic, he reminds one of the late, great Rik Mayall's ability to incorporate disdain and contempt for most everything around him while still seeming insecure. As Pete's former flame, Clarke balances Claire’s sweeter nature with shadings of the friable fragility her friends constantly allude to. Representing his current world, Charly Clive is marvelous as the woman who Pete thinks he wants to marry. And then there’s the wild card, Harry. Brusque, uncouth, grotesque, and hilarious, Harry is the colorful local brought in from the pub who becomes the main target for Pete’s insecurity and disdain. Dustin Demri-Burns is positively demonic and keeps us—and Pete—guessing what Harry might precisely be up to.
Palmer, Stourton, and Gaynord deftly keep Pete and the audience guessing about what is going on. We’re privy to every ounce of Pet’s increasing paranoia, and his ever-squirm-inducing behavior is as understandable as it is nigh on unbearable. By the end of the film, all is revealed, and it may just be the supreme example of TMI.
"All My Friends Hate Me" is a fantastic example of a clever, savage script combined with terrific performances. If you find any twisted satisfaction in those video collections of people slowly, achingly dying inside, this is a film for you. Even if you don’t, "All My Friends Hate Me" is a blackly humorous band-aid rip of the soul worth watching despite whatever awkward memories it may revive.
This devil of a reviewer gives "All My Friends Hate Me" 4 out of 5 imps.