VOD film review: Kill Your Friends
James Corden’s horrible death10
Likeability of anyone featured3
Ian Loring | On 12, Apr 2016
Director: Owen Harris
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Tom Riley, Georgia King
Watch Kill Your Friends online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Charting how close you are to seeing the Grim Reaper through how old films are is an oft-favourite pastime of many – “You Won’t Believe How Old Good Burger Is”, etc. – but music is just as likely to evoke such morbid thoughts. Early Oasis and Blur being well over 20 years old, early Nirvana being nearly 30 years old… it’s enough to make you want to curl up in a ball and wish the world away. That Kill Your Friends inspires such feelings is certainly not the greatest recommendation, but its mix of American Psycho, 24 Hour Party People and trawling through “Now That’s What I Call A 90’s Era Music Cue” does hold some trashy fun.
Like those aforementioned films, Kill Your Friends lacks a protagonist you can ever really call likeable, but Nicholas Hoult does well in embodying his money, women and substances-addled lead character. Unlike Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman, A&R man Steven acknowledges that he doesn’t even like his job, or music in all actuality – a scene very much homaging American Psycho hits the nail on the head almost too much – but he does love the pursuit of power. The sheer unrepentant nature of his character could make many turn off from the film straight away. but if the sheen of black comedy meshes well with you, there’s some joy to be had. Joy which also includes watch James Corden being killed in an impressively grisly way – to some, this could be a pleasure in itself.
Director Owen Harris’ eye for detail in the world-building is also of note. The character types are undeniably perfect: the screen is full of indie kids with stupid haircuts and music nerds, who lack the cut-throat nature to ever succeed in the world – Craig Roberts performing to type here as a soft-spoken, nebbish talent scout. Georgia King’s sly PA, Rebecca, feels like she could exist in any office like this, someone who would be better at the job than those above her and waits to seize her chance like a python.
All of this excess and nastiness does run the risk of wearing on you, however, and in the film’s second half, it certainly takes its toll. Steven starts to lose grip of everything around him in your usual end-of-second-act dilemma, but his ‘redemption’ sees him doing things that feel even grimmer than what has come before. While it is of interest that the arc of the character is virtually non-existent in a world where everyone is scheming constantly, it becomes hard to connect with him; although you never like the guy, at least he has a sense of humour about the whole thing at the start.
Kill Your Friends isn’t a film you can like very much, but the slime seeps off the screen impressively. Hoult acquits himself well – his varied career continues to flourish – and he’s supported by a rock solid cast. If the world of the record industry in the 90’s is of interest, it’s a solid recommend.
Kill Your Friends is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.