All My Friends Hate Me arrives in cinemas on June 10th.
Ever felt like there’s just something off in your friendship group? A feeling that you might have said the wrong thing and killed the mood? That looming social paranoia permeates the air and becomes almost suffocating in Andrew Gaynord’s All My Friends Hate Me. Tom Stourton’s Pete (a co-writer) is invited to a birthday weekend reunion with his old middle-class university pals. However, soon after he arrives, the weekend vibe is thrown off-kilter by the unexpected addition of Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns), a straggler to whom the group have taken a strong liking. However, the same can’t be said for Pete.
The dynamics of all friendship groups are rife with small but potent moments of intense discomfort and unease, a prickly remark here or an awkward secret revealed there. Here those tiny moments are expertly dwelled upon by writers Tom Palmer & Stourton, twisting the knife slowly as Pete discovers the distance between his university self and the man he’s become today, much to his group’s chagrin. It’s a display of some of the best and most uncomfortable cringe comedy as Pete seems to unintentionally undermine or mock his close friends in their new ambitions and lifestyles. Dustin Demri-Burns’s Harry (a brilliantly Machiavellian trickster) is seemingly at the root of all of Pete’s issues; however, there is something preventing you from being sure he is behind all the problems. There’s a deep immersion into the throbbing anxiety and sweaty paranoia that Pete begins to drown in, with an expertly crafted script ensuring we have a lifeline from the potential delusions that Pete starts to take on. There’s a combative relationship between Harry and Pete that cleverly plays on their socio-economic divisions, often akin to Harold Pinter’s The Servant.
All My Friends Hate Me deftly navigates this wobbly tightrope between an unquestionable belief in Pete’s paranoia and uncertainty about him and his character. For every issue that Pete has, there seems to be a rational explanation. Here the paranoia begins to escape the film and invades your mind. There’s an insidious banality to the horror that underscores many of the interactions within the friendship group, and perhaps that’s what feels most nefarious about it all – it feels all too real and yet not at the same time. We’re all aware of the social faux pas of a poorly timed joke or a misinterpreted comment, but to take that unruly social anxiety that floods the system and paint an entire cinematic canvas with that immense feeling of dread is an inspired choice. Sometimes, the best horror comes from situations that are all too familiar.
The arrival of Pete’s girlfriend, Sonia, should announce a beautiful escape from Pete’s increasing madness, but instead, her presence allows Gaynord to turn the screws even tighter, heating up the manor into a gigantic pressure cooker of paranoia or a sous vide of suspicion. As Pete tumbles further and further down the rabbit hole, you find yourself gripped by your desperation for answers. It feels like David Fincher took another crack at The Game and shrank it down to the minuscule but incredibly affecting conflicts that haunt our friendships. What’s truly refreshing about this horror-comedy is that you cannot tell where it will go next, who you can trust, or when the joke will end.
Much like Pete, you are thrust into the darkness of uncertainty and forced to fumble on your hands and knees, desperately searching for clarity. Eventually, that clarity emerges, but not without unearthing some genuinely dark, twisted secrets from the partygoers. All My Friends Hate Me is one of the best British comedies in years. It has a wickedly macabre sense of humour that is as hilarious as it is cringey, playing up that shared social anxiety and embarrassment ten-fold – we need more horror comedies like this.
All My Friends Hate Me is one of the best British comedies in years. It has a wickedly macabre sense of humour that is as hilarious as it is cringe-inducing, playing up that shared social anxiety and embarrassment ten-fold – we need more horror comedies like this.