A social satire that hints at horror, ‘All My Friends Hate Me’ is overstuff and overlong but entertaining nevertheless.
The nightmare of going to a party where you don’t know anyone is something that recurs in my mind. Imagine showing up at a party and having no one to talk to? Or better yet, you have nothing in common with people you should know? Even worse, what if you know everyone but they don’t treat you like friends anymore?
This is the conundrum that comes to life in the Tribeca film All My Friends Hate Me, a social satire about what happens when you meet up with friends you haven’t seen in a decade and something sinister is afoot. While billed as a horror or thriller, I instead found it more like a cringe drama. Directed by Andrew Gaynord, the film converges on the college reunion and birthday of Pete, played by the impeccably awkward Tom Stourton (also the film’s co-writer). Pete’s college buddies seem to be the same as ever, except for the changes of time. Yet they seem to be hiding something from Pete.
Pete has found success in his life and has drifted award from his old pals, but the secrets they’ve been holding onto in the last number of years come to a climax. Tales of failed suicides, drunken hookups, and flaunted wealth have shown the changes that a decade can bring to old friends. But more than that, everyone seems to be turning against old Pete. The university’s former class clown has grown up, and his friends seem to have grown against him.
When an interloper arrives at the party that seems to be taking notes on Pete and spurring on conflicts between the classmates, things get even more convoluted. Bad binge drinking and rude jokes and failed attempts at skeet shooting all seem to make Pete into the subject of ridicule. But is it just paranoia and mental illness for Pete, or is something sinister happening?
More than anything, the film has a great sense of humor about itself. The problems of affluent and educated Brits could be condescending, but it is instead poking constant fun at the main characters in the film. All My Friends Hate Me isn’t about sympathy for Pete, but instead wondering whether it matters that he is pitied or not. A simpler movie would amp up the darkness and make the country estate seem creepier. Gaynord and cinematographer Ben Moulden don’t make the massive house into a monster. Instead, it’s just a British estate. Scenes of hunting don’t turn the guns into red herrings; they’re just part of the scenery. It’s a magnificent choice and a great way to turn the film’s style on its head. The score from British electronica duo Pavan (Joe Robbins and Will Lowe) is maybe the most unsettling thing in the film aside from the great performances.
The massive flaw in the film is that it is just so long and too lugubrious to last for too long. At 90 minutes it feels stretched to its limits. If it were about half the length, it would be far more compelling. The ending is also a stretch beyond the imaginable but could be a lot more poorly done.
All My Friends Hate Me is worth the watch for great performances and a good look. If you go beyond the mixed effort of the script, you’ll be in for a big treat.