FILM IN FOCUS: Kill Your Friends(Dir: Owen Harris)

FILM IN FOCUS: Kill Your Friends(Dir: Owen Harris)

image001 (7)

Ah, the 90s. How we so fondly remember you. Britpop on the battleground, Spice Girls in our faces…Well fitted clothes (?!).

If one of those seems out of place it’s because it very much is. With this, his first real stab resembling anything of a leading role since his breakout in 2002’s About A Boy, this is Nicholas Hoult trying to prove to everyone he’s worth more than spray-painted teeth of Mad Max and the blue tones of X-men. Yet as the star (and producer) on this adaptation of John Niven’s Cult Classic book (who has the sole screenwriting credit), it feels with almost every scene that he fails to engage with the material or add any gravitas to the deplorable Stelfox, an A&R man with a one track mind to lie, cheat, steal, kill and win his way to the top of the 90s record industry.

One of the central reasons for this is that he feels miscast. Too young to take seriously as a man in his high-ranking position, let alone as someone with the weight of Murder and Millions on his shoulders, this should have been Hoult’s Patrick Bateman: his defining role. Alas, under the bland and often misguided direction of Owen Harris the film never extends beyond a serious of shock moments – Aids this, Murder that, Cocaine, pills, sex – designed to appeal no farther the Unilads and the ‘cult’ following the producers so hope to attain.

Beyond the performance (Hoult is in every scene) the film never really engages with the decade in which it’s set. In fact, Harris seems to actively avoid the majority of it other than the occasional supporting character resembling a Gallagher brother and how much the record industry hates the “F***ing Spic Girls (I did however enjoy the one Menswear Joke).

From the sets to the costume, the Mise-en-scene is completely anachronistic in design, and if it weren’t for the soundtrack (one of the films few saving graces), the fact that it’s set it 1997 would be completely lost on everyone. The film is at odds with itself in a vain attempt to appeal to a modern audience in its aesthetic, whilst simultaneously alienating them with cultural references that will never make sense to anyone under 22.

Too interested in its own sense of shocking self-importance, the film plays out like a poor man’s American Psycho (almost too closely) without the comprehension of what made American Psycho so relevant: scathing pop-culture satire. For a film about the very fickle pop-culture record industry of the 90’s, this is some achievement, although not one I would necessarily suggest we celebrate.


Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Craig Roberts, Tom Riley

Release Date: 6th November, 2015

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.