Film: All My Friends Hate Me

The nightmarish dark comedy All My Friends Hate Me (2021) isn’t an easy watch, but it’s a singular achievement in surreal cringe. Co-writer Tom Stourton stars as Pete, an average guy in his early thirties on the verge of proposing to his steady girlfriend, Sonia (Charly Clive). Pete’s on his way to a posh country estate to visit old friends from university for his birthday. His life is a relatively mature, salt-of-the-earth one, working with refugees, but back in the day he engaged in partying hijinks with a small crew of upper-crust toffs, who he hasn’t seen in years. The reunion weekend gets off to a weird start with some unsettling encounters en route, but it gets even worse when his old chums enter the picture. The group camaraderie is just off, his friends prickly and unpleasant—and, weirdly, still engaged in the immature antics of their college days. On top of that, there’s an interloper in their midst: Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns), an energetic life-of-the-party type who repeatedly steals Pete’s thunder. A weekend supposedly in Pete’s honor turns instead into an exercise in extended social anxiety, as the collision of past and present rips open deep psychological wounds.

Neither funny enough for straight comedy nor suspenseful enough to be a thriller, All My Friends Hate Me defies simple categorization, balancing on a knife’s edge in the interstices of genre and tone. This makes it a wholly unique watch, even if you can’t quite place its ultimate intentions—a janky, disorienting emotional journey that blends elements of dark-comedy quirk, conspiracy-thriller paranoia, and surreal psychological horror. Stourton is accessible as the sympathetic but slightly unreliable lead, challenged at every turn to reconcile a faulty memory with uncomfortable new realities, his self-image twisted up in anxious social interaction. Demri-Burns, who also stars as the tragically hapless Min Harper in Slow Horses, steals his scenes as the unwelcome guest, while Pete’s decidedly suspicious “friends”—Georgina Campbell, Antonia Clarke, Graham Dickson, and Joshua McGuire—contribute greatly to Pete’s nerve-wracking distress. The overall artistic thesis of All My Friends Hate Me isn’t easy to pinpoint, but it’s an engrossing watch that provides an insightful psychological portrait, channeling the relatable social pitfalls of group dynamics that awkwardly shift with age—which sometimes force us to come to terms with how our pasts have shaped us.

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