All My Friends Hate Me: An unwavering dark comedy which blurs the lines between truth and insecurity
Opening at Showroom Cinema on Friday 10 June, All My Friends Hate Me is a deliberately dark comedy about social paranoia, that uses humour to address issues of mental health.
It is Pete’s (Tom Stourton) birthday, and his friend George (Joshua McGuire) is hosting a university reunion at his English countryside mansion to celebrate. Pete is excited for the opportunity to show off about his thrilling adventures volunteering abroad at a refugee camp. However, his excitement proves misguided as his birthday celebrations become increasingly uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Pete’s old friends aren’t there to meet him as he arrives. To make matters worse, when they do arrive Pete realises they have spontaneously invited a feral stranger, Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns) from the pub. Harry knows a little too much about Pete’s past for his liking. Their new companion is dangerously unhinged and proves a source of entertainment for everyone, except for Pete, who scorns Harry’s wild behaviour to be like the kind nonsensical things they might have all enjoyed back at university. But Pete’s friends take Harry’s side, and shun Pete’s stories of his new life in favour of joining in Harry’s barbaric activities.
Pete becomes more and more unsettled by his supposed friends' immature behaviour and starts to believe that he is the butt of some elaborate joke. His growing anxiety invites more prods and pokes made at his expense, each with more a threatening edge than the last. Is Pete gaslighting himself into insecurity, or is it the strange intruder, Harry, who is to blame? Repeated murder attempts from his friends and a creeping sense of dread are played down with the assurance that Pete just needs to calm down and enjoy the ‘fun’.
Premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, All My Friends Hate Me is the Director Andrew Gaynord’s debut feature film following his successful series The Characters on Netflix. Tom Palmer and lead actor Tom Stourton co-wrote the script with sharp characterisations. The actors’ fine-tuned performances of this quality script provide ample rewards amongst an endless tide of awkwardness. Gaynord’s use of wide shots, tracking shots, slow pans and wobbly handheld photography creates a greater sense of unease and discomfort that seems never to resolve. This film is a curious combination of comedy and all the psychological fear, paranoia and tension typical of a horror. All My Friends Hate Me uses this juxtaposition of comedy and fear to accurately address the issues of social anxiety and mental health, and the impact of these on men in particular.
Opening at Showroom Cinema on Friday 10 June. Tickets are now on sale.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph on Thursday 09 June 2022