All My Friends Hate Me is a British comedy horror films that has proven to be one of the underrated gems of year. The film follows Pete (Tom Stourton), a charity worker, who is planning to spend his 31st birthday with friends from university who he hasn’t seen in years. The celebrations take place at the estate owned by friend George (Joshua McGuire) and it becomes apparent that while Pete may have matured since his partying days, the same cannot be said about his friends who seem to be stuck in the past. When newcomer, Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns), joins the group on their escapades, Pete grows more and more paranoid that he is being pushed out the group.
Directed by Andrew Gaynord and with the script written by Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton, All My Friends Hate Me is a brilliant take on British horror. It subverts everything you would expect from a British horror film while exploring issues revolving around class and privilege. Palmer and Stourton’s script is a perfect blend of horror and comedy demonstrating plenty of examples of excellent comedic timing throughout the duration of the film. Despite only running for 93 minutes, the film is full of character development for its cast thanks to the peppering seeds of doubt that are planted all the way through the film, leading to the extremely tense climactic scene. Gaynord’s direction takes advantage of the limited locations by making the large estate feel incredibly small and claustrophobic as though Pete has no means of escape.
Tom Stourton leads the cast as protagonist Pete, a charity worker who believes that he has grown up and matured since his university days, while the others seem to be trapped in the mentality. What is great about Stourton’s character and the performance is that he is not as different to the others as he may think. He comments on their backgrounds and their privilege plenty, despite coming from a similar background himself, while also forgetting about the various displays of behaviour that he had committed at university in a bid to disconnect himself from that privilege and lead a life where he can help those less fortunate. However, simply forgetting or refusing to acknowledge privilege and wrongdoings of the past is not good enough and in this film, we see the paranoia and delusions unfold as Pete is forced to look in the mirror and reflect on what kind of person he is and who he has been. Pete is such a fantastic character to follow because he ventures in this grey area where there is no blatant right or wrong.
There are lots of brilliant supporting turns, but Graham Dickson shines as the super-posh, Archie, a selfdescribed “toff” who is struggling to come up with a decent business plan. What makes Archie a gem of a character is that he is fully aware of his privelege and takes ownership of his lifestyle. He is both likeable and unlikeable at the same time and it’s a testament to Dickson’s ability to exaggerate the character without it feeling like a caricature. Totally opposite to Archie is Pete’s girlfriend, Sonia who is played by Charly Clive in what can be deemed as the most grounded performance. Sonia is from the North (presumably meant to read as working class) which immediately puts her in a separate category from everybody else with their affluent upbringing. Clive isn’t in the film a lot, but when she is onscreen, it is as though her character is the one that can ground the tension and bring understanding. What is great about Sonia is that she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and doesn’t let herself be put down by the others, especially Archie. The variety of characters is what makes All My Friends Hate Me such an engaging watch as we get to see these eclectic personalities clash.
A personal highlight was the music by Will Lowes and Joe Robbins which elevates the tension and draws on the horror of the film. The music style feels familiar to soundtracks of other modern horrors, but the way it bounces off the comedy in the film works excellently. There are drawn out violin pieces to highlight the isolation that Pete is feeling and the rising paranoia that is building throughout the film.
All My Friends Hate Me does a brilliant job of subverting various tropes associated with British horror. Palmer and Stourton’s script takes the audience on a journey filled with so many twists and turns that we begin to feel Pete’s paranoia and delusion, questioning every action and reaction that takes place. Despite the short running time, All My Friends Hate Me has a lot to discuss in the topics of class and privilege, and manages to do this while ensuring that the characters are fleshed out enough so we are gripped from beginning to end.
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All My Friends Hate Me is available to watch in cinemas now!