Nightstream Film Festival (NFF) – As hard as it is to make friends as an adult it can be hard to maintain long-time friendships as well, made abundantly clear in the dark comedy, All My Friends Hate Me. A movie about feeling like the odd man out in a room full of people as well as feeling odd on the inside, this movie recounts an unfortunate birthday weekend fit for the expendable friend of an opinionated clique that focuses on gradually building tension through small, intriguing mysteries and moments of anxiety-driven surrealism. Screening at the 2021 Nighstream Film Festival in the feature film lineup, All My Friends Hate Me is written by Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton and is directed by Andrew Gaynard.
A group of old college friends who haven’t seen each other in years decides to throw a birthday celebration for one of their own, a shy, charity worker named Pete (Tom Stourton). Gathering at an old family estate, the friends settle in for a weekend of catching up, but not before inviting a mysterious man from a local pub to add his off-brand humor to the festive weekend. As they plod through the itinerary, the dynamic between the friends becomes increasingly strained and Pete begins to feel like the odd man out, a feeling exacerbated by the mysterious man’s seemingly ever-watchful eye and passive-aggressive behavior. The weekend comes to a head when mysteries and past secrets are finally exposed in an intense final night of celebration and paranoia.
All My Friends Hate Me is a movie about horrible friends who feign their relationship for old times’ sake. A very relatable movie, indeed, not just for its premise, but for its cast of characters that was thankfully kept relatively small, allowing ample room for their conversations to reveal their precarious friendship and how that feeds into the protagonist’s persistent anxiety. I felt that Pete’s neurosis was passed onto the audience early on, subjected to his paranoid POV that offered thrilling moments of terror and panicked moments of high anxiety, set up by Andrew Gaynord’s peculiar angles that revealed the disconnection in their relationships.
The key component to the unsettling atmosphere of All My Friends Hate Me was primarily its musical score, which made use of sounds that were both grating to the senses but beautifully discordant, highlighting the many uneasy but riveting moments in this film where either the protagonist’s words or reality were being twisted. This movie portrays social anxiety so accurately that it may become a triggering and frustrating watch, as Pete, Played by one of the film’s screenwriters, Tom Stourton, portrays co-dependency and the confusing state of constant miscommunications perfectly, capturing the interpersonal horror and dread that stems from suffocating under the weight of an ill-fitted social mask.
The ending result of this movie is it being an uncomfortable and awkward watch, but in the best way possible, as there is an ever-present undertone of impending danger that builds both anxiety and excitement in the narrative and make All My Friends Hate Me a fun watch. Some of it seemed too abrupt, but ultimately the more positive points of this movie win out. All My Friends Hate Me leans into its carefully crafted atmosphere with an excellent musical score and camera framing, and its characters are wonderfully written and portrayed as charmingly flawed.
All My Friends Hate Me reviewed as part of our Nightstream Film Festival (NFF) coverage.
7.5 out of 10