Kill Your Friends (2015)

  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Crime | Thriller
  • Director: Owen Harris
  • Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Ed Skrein, Craig Roberts, Rosanna Arquette


An A&R man working at the height of the Britpop music craze goes to extremes in order to find his next hit.

One comment

  • Kill Your Friends’ title is a bit misleading considering there are no such things as friends in the dog-eat-dog world of the film’s narrow-minded universe.

    London, 1997 – Britpop’s second Golden Age was about to gasp its last breaths. Of course, no one knows that just yet and so record companies are scouring clubs and bars and industry showcases for the next Oasis or Spice Girls or anyone that will put more money in their pockets. Lest you be too ideal, our tour guide into this particular hell, Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult), quickly disabuses you of that mode of thinking. “We have no obligation to make art…or political statements…or good records. We have an obligation to make money.”

    Steven works as an A&R man at London-based record label Unigram. He and a small group of self-appointed elite gods sift through the half a million demos they receive each year and cherry-pick ten out of that pile to be their next potential cash cows. How do they make their decisions? Under the influence of drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and fear because none of them have a bloody clue about what they’re doing. Based on what’s presented, these stunted individuals have a knack for hoovering Olympian levels of cocaine up their nostrils and massaging the egos of delusional acts such as the Goldie-like Rage (Osy Ikhile), who sends shivers down their spines by following up his massive debut album with an experimental one. There’s also a German dance producer (Moritz Bleibtreu), whose new single may be “the biggest insult to humanity since the Nazis cooed over the blueprints to Auschwitz,” but damn it to hell if Steven lets his rival Parker-Hall (Tom Riley) gets his hands on it first.

    Anything goes if you want to succeed in this business…even murder. Steven has no compunction doing away with those who block his path to become the next head of A&R at Unigram. He will let no one slow his roll. Not Parker-Hall, who actually knows how to do his job. Not colleague Waters (James Corden), the first victim of Steven’s homicidal tendencies (not only does Waters get urinated upon, but half his face is bludgeoned away – the brutality of his end matters not a whit as audience sympathy is sure to be reserved for the fate of his dog). Not DC Woodham (Edward Hogg), the detective investigating Waters’ death who is more than willing to compromise his duties in exchange for a music contract.

    Hoult, who serves as one of the film’s executive producers, obviously relishes the opportunity to play a character who is all toxic swagger and vengeful spite. He is very good as the loathsome Steven, though he doesn’t quite reach the depths that Christian Bale plumbed as Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. Therein lies the film’s problem as well – for all the debauchery and grotesquerie, it doesn’t go quite far enough. The satire is blunted and the film grows numbingly wearisome.

    On the plus side, Kill Your Friends boasts a soundtrack featuring Echo and the Bunnymen, Oasis, Radiohead, and The Chemical Brothers.

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