It’s always good to see comedians you know from the comedy scene enter the film world. Tom Stourton and Tom Palmer caused a stir a few years ago as the high-energy double act Totally Tom, and now they have their cinematic breakthrough in the genre-bending All My Friends Hate Me starring Stourton, written by the two of them and directed by Andrew Gaynord.
After a singalong auto-based opening rocking shades from Alan Partridge to Roachford, we find out what the set-up is. Upscale charity worker Peter heads to a country house to celebrate his birthday and reconnect with old friends. It’s a situation he might genuinely enjoy, but that doesn’t mean he’s not afraid of it. When he asks an old man for directions along the way, you immediately get the feeling that maybe not everything is as it seems.
Upon arrival, things start off well as he meets up with George (Joshua McGuire), his wife Fig (Georgina Campbell), Archie (Graham Dickson) and old flame Claire (Antonia Clarke). But there’s also a random local named Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns) who’s just a little too pushy for comfort.
As the weekend progresses, Pete gets worse and worse. You start to wonder if everyone is ganging up on him on purpose and if so, what is the reason? Revenge? Is it something that happened in the past? Or is it all in his head? He’s on pills, so he’s clearly suffering from something. It all feels like it’s going to end in tears. Or maybe even worse.
What makes All My Friends Hate Me both good and bad is that you never quite know what genre it wants to be. Is it a comedy about social embarrassment? There are laughs, but not that many, and they are often uncomfortable laughs. You’re often on the edge of your seat, not knowing what’s coming next. Is it a psychological thriller? Is it a horror movie set in a posh idiot’s mansion? In a way, it’s all of those things.
The chemistry between the cast works well and manages to fill in the gaps even when the script seems off the mark. There are scenes that don’t quite fit and other scenes that seem to go one way and then go another. Again, this kind of leaves you guessing, but in a way that doesn’t seem intentional.
Some people have suggested that this is like an update of the old Ken Branagh/Stephen Fry Luvvie Fest Peter’s Friends, but that’s not entirely true. At times the audio feels more like a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright movie. Imagine Shaun of the Dead with fewer zombies and more white male privilege.
All My Friends Hate Me is now generally available
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