Director: Owen Harris
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Tom Riley, Ed Skrein, Craig Roberts, James Cordon, Georgia King
Written by: (based on the novel) John Niven
Running Time: 103 mins
Release date: 6th November 2015
Kill Your Friends is a very misleading title because you seriously wouldn’t want to spend five minutes with the central character, Stelfox, meaning you wouldn’t want to be in his company long enough to become friends. This is a vile, disgusting, egomaniac with absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever, working in a business which we all know is full of vile, disgusting egomaniacs. So being forced to watch a film about him is frankly a vile and disgusting experience.
Stelfox is an A&R man for a record company that is failing to find new acts strong enough to be successes. Forced to watch others rising through the ranks of the company, Stelfox wants nothing more than to be the head of A&R. When he is passed over for promotion, he decides to guide his own destiny and kill the man who got the job ahead of him. Stelfox than has to build up lies and deceits to cover his tracks. Something he’s very good at doing.
Set during the Britpop days of the mid-90’s, this could have been an insightful peek at the music industry when success was being forge during the Blair years, with bands like Blue and Oasis making up most of the charts. This would have been easy, considering that writer John Niven was in the industry as an A&R man. That would have been a film I would have liked to have seen. Instead, we get a British version of American Psycho, in which the lead character narrates his way through his own, twisted world where he thinks he is the greatest and we have to listen while he wallows in his own ego.
What makes it even worst is that Stelfox, who is totally morally repugnant, has nothing redeeming about him, so there is nothing remotely interesting about him. Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, while being virtually the same, had something about him, a charisma that made us understand why his head was full of violence. He also guided us through his twisted view of life with an air of black humour. American Psycho was a clever satire with an edge. This isn’t.
It doesn’t show us a world we haven’t seen before. It shows us a world fuelled by drugs, sex and lies. It’s a world where the artists have no control of their future but the men and women in the background. Have a hit, you are flavour of the month. Have a flop, you are dropped like a bad habit. Yet this lifestyle has been shown in every pop and rock movie since the dawn of time. It’s nothing new. So throwing in a killer aspect to try to make things interesting fails miserably, especially when the lead is the kind of guy you’d move away from if he came anywhere near you.
The sad fact about this movie is the lead is played by Nicholas Hoult, a talented actor who has been slowly carving out a solid career since the days of About A Boy and Skins, to become a name up there with the likes of Tom Hiddleston in the “Brits who have made it in Hollywood” department. This role is definitely a bad move. Christian Bale’s career was made even bigger after American Psycho. This could be a few steps back for Hoult. The character is so nasty, you don’t care about him or what happens to him. You just want him to go away and curl up with his politically incorrect views and massive ego.
I hated Kill Your Friends. Flashy, trashy and with an ending that left me cold. It has nothing redeemable to recommend it, If you want to see a film about the music industry during the Britpop years, then see Shane Meadows’ brilliant documentary, The Stone Roses, Made Of Stone. If you want to see an egomaniac on a killing spree, then American Psycho. If you want to see an 103 minute film about a massive ego, then this is film to see. Putrid.