Have you ever felt like the odd one out in a group of friends? You feel obligated to have fun, but your jokes might not land, and the whole situation is made all the more awkward by nothing in particular? There’s a scale of relatability, and we’ve all been there at one point in our lives. All My Friends Hate Me has managed to epitomize that feeling, condensing it into a breezy, and extremely surreal, 90 minutes.
Tom Stourton (Siblings) is Pete, a twenty-something who is on his way to a reunion with his university friends at an ornate mansion in the English countryside. It’s not just any old reunion, though — it’s Pete’s birthday, and unbeknownst to him, he’s about to be thrown back into supposed drama left over from his college days. Old relationships, unresolved tension and horrible memories are all on the table, and this is a place where anything can happen.
The little I knew about All My Friends Hate Me going in indicated that it would be absurdist on some level, playing on the paranoia of our lead while also playing it fast and loose with the finite concepts of reality. While that’s true, and the film is absolutely a comedy, it doesn’t fully commit to the dedicated absurdism that it needs to be even more effective.
It’s all the more confounding that All My Friends Hate Me gets genuinely serious at points, especially when it touches on sensitive subjects. Most of it’s played for laughs, but due to the tonal inconsistency I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be feeling when Pete’s friend George (Lovesick’s Joshua McGuire) mentions an attempted suicide, or when new guy Harry (Cardinal Burns’ Dustin Demri-Burns) makes creepy comments about Pete’s genitals. This is the same movie in which a new, previously unseen character enters the mansion holding a duck, with a bombastic rock song as his introduction soundtrack. I wish it had been willing to get weirder, because that’s what the story needed to nail the comedy while also giving the serious moments the respect they deserve. There is a way to strike the balance, but All My Friends Hate Me doesn’t do it quite well enough.
Despite this, I found myself laughing a lot. The film’s comedic style really works for me, partly because I’m a sucker for deadpan and cringe humor, but also because it’s so delightfully British in a very fun way. The tension is slowly built, and we get further and further into Pete’s head until we’re not sure exactly what’s real and what we should believe. If a comedy can be a slow burn, All My Friends Hate Me absolutely fits the bill. I promise there is a culmination, and the seemingly-unrelated events do have a resolution (and quite a darkly hilarious one at that).
While watching it, my mind kept coming back to the relatability scale. I see a lot of myself in Pete, and because of that I felt a connection to his situation and a certain empathy that made my viewing experience unique. While I’ve never had an intense reunion with my old friends where everything gets way out of hand, I’m familiar with the feeling that you don’t matter among your closest buddies — with the knowledge in the back of your mind that they would do anything for you, just as you would do anything for them.
All My Friends Hate Me will be released in select theaters on March 11, 2022 and on digital on demand platforms on March 25, 2022.
Please watch and read our interview with the film’s writers and star, Tom Stourton and Tom Palmer, here: A Conversation with Co-Writers Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton on “All My Friends Hate Me”