Review: ‘All My Friends Hate Me’

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Pete hasn’t been taking his herbal calming pills – it shows. 

A birthday weekend away with old friends promises drinking, laughing and…paranoia? Whether it’s his friends’ slightly off-side sense of humour or their blatantly accusing comments, Pete finds himself falling down a rabbit hole of social anxiety. Harry – a mysterious man who comes bearing a goose – is the catalyst behind those sweaty palms and fretful jitters. Pete finds Harry’s presence immensely unnerving. It results in a toe-curling, teeth-gritting explosion of accusations, admittance and murderous vase throwing. From hostile sleeping bags to axe-wielding enemies, profound nudity to unstable engagement proposals, this film covers it all through one short stay away at George’s impressively grand manor house. 

Forgotten memories and distant inside jokes cloud Pete’s vision, but so does the lack of a therapist. Imagine all the worst social scenarios you could possibly find yourself in blended into a soup of confused confrontation, spectacularly loud silences, and cringe-worthy conversations. This is what All My Friends Hate Me encompasses – an unconventional horror that imposes dauntingly funny surrealism on the viewer.

I found that the true success of this evidently low-budget film lies in its ability to categorise its audience. It immediately separates the confident from the insecure. Those who fail to see the horror of the movie and find Pete’s disposition irritatingly irrational can be certain of their own self-assurance. Those who empathise with Pete, who validate his emotions, are clearly on the same unstable wavelength and are able to relish in this otherwise undetected, grimacingly intended horror. Apparently, I fit into the latter category, or at least I have been strategically convinced to believe so. 

Director Andrew Gaynord manages to make the temperature of your room rise, your clothes feel tighter, and your heart beat a little faster

Too disturbing to look away, Palmer and Stourton’s immaculately frantic writing left me squirming in my seat but also very much unable to press pause. Director Andrew Gaynord manages to make the temperature of your room rise, your clothes feel tighter, and your heart beat a little faster; it truly is a work of art that plunges the viewer straight into the mindset of the socially paranoid protagonist. 

Capturing the exact moment that panic overrides rationality, All My Friends Hate Me is thought-provoking and encourages self-reflection in a weirdly discreet way. I finished watching only to find myself realising Pete is me… I am Pete. It is so horrifically relatable. Am I laughing at the screen or am I laughing at my own pathetic alikeness to the painstaking awkwardness being displayed? Even sleep brings no respite for Pete, we watch as his worries manifest themselves in perturbing dream-like hallucinations of Claire. 

If a more action-packed, full-steam ahead plot line is what you are after, then I would avoid this stiflingly slow clunker of a screenplay, though some might say that this is precisely the beauty of the film – not much happens yet it so desperately rattles along over the pothole-ridden road of the problematic psyche. Departing from his slightly less R-rated Thomas and Friends, Stourton’s writing of All My Friends Hate Me lends itself to riskier humour, one aided by Gaynord’s overexaggerated depiction of upper-class millennials. We experience a severe lack of realism ironically disguised by a very much real mentality. Behind the cocaine addictions and pompous pigeon shooting, all you are left with is a series of crude practical jokes. 

So as the credits roll in, is what we need to understand from Pete’s world simply just how to take a joke?

Image: John Moeses Bauan via Unsplash

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