Britain, 1997. Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) works as an A & R man in a record label at the height of Britpop. Amid copious amounts of drugs, alcohol and sex he starts killing off his colleagues in a bid to climb the job ladder.
Based on the novel of the same name written by John Niven, who is also on screenplay duties, Kill Your Friends is American Psycho in the British record industry in the 1990’s. Opening with the sound of cocaine being tapped out and sniffed up which is shortly followed by an attempted murder by drugs overdose, Kill Your Friends wants to get in your face and stay there, slapping you with hedonistic vices you’ll have to quickly jump on board with or you will remain isolated for the rest of the film.
Nicholas Hoult is the Patrick Bateman of the film and the boy from About A Boy has grown up. With very few, if any redeeming features, Steven Stelfox is an anti-hero with a hatred for everyone around him, but he is still an entertaining one. Stelfox is surrounded mostly by idiots so it is entertaining seeing his treatment and loathing towards those around him. Hoult throws himself into the character showing quite a different side than we’ve seen of him before, much like James McAvoy’s performance in Filth. It’s fairly impossible to feel any sympathy towards Stelfox, even as his actions push him to his lowest ebb, but we don’t have to like him and it is to Hoult’s credit and charisma that we want to spend the running time in his company.
The film has one of the better song based soundtracks of recent years featuring the likes of The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Blur and Oasis, which will make you want to reach back in to your old record collection as it reminds you of great albums and songs.
Your tolerance for Kill Your Friends will very much depend on your thoughts on jet black comedy and films like Filth. It’s not going to be for everyone and many will find it too full on and distasteful. Certainly the film is all grimy surface. It has only references to the socio-political climate in Britain at the time, there are a couple of famous political posters in the background, so it does lack the satirical depth of something like American Psycho and having this would have added an extra level to the film.
Kill Your Friends is dark and vicious, awash with violence, swearing, drugs and sex. If you like your comedy dark then there is some entertainment to be had here but it does lack depth.