When old friends get together after a long-standing break, there’s the saying of “picking up where you left off.” In reality, is that even possible? Sure, you’ll always have the memories, but is it really fair to say everything will be the same? One of the few constants in life is change—especially when talking about people. We all get new jobs, significant others, and fall into living situations that mold us into something different.
Pete (Tom Stourton) is excited to spend some time with old college friends for a birthday weekend. His girlfriend Sonia (Charly Clive) is expected to join the next day, and before Pete leaves, he cannot withhold the excitement of speaking to her about the old times and nicknames. He makes his way to his friend George’s (Joshua McGuire) family estate, blasting Darude’s ‘Sandstorm’ ready to have a good time. Upon his arrival, nobody is there—thus, Pete has to spend a good chunk of time alone. It’s the beginning of a very odd, funny, and anxiety-inducing weekend for Pete as he finds out nothing really stays the same.
Director Andrew Gaynord and writers Tom Palmer and Stourton converge their minds together to give All My Friends Hate Me a horror tone that peers into growing states of paranoia. In not seeing people for a while, you want to present your best self—that alone can get dicey. When all Pete’s friends Georgia, his wife Fig (Georgina Campbell), ex-GF Claire (Antonia Clarke), and Archie (Graham Dickson) return home, they bring Henry (Dustin Demri-Burns), an outlandish, humorous local from the pub, back with them. From there, a seed of insecurity grows within Pete. Who is this guy, and why are my friends so comfortable around him? The film plays off the real human emotion of feeling as if you’re being replaced. Pete’s jokes aren’t as funny as they used to be, and there’s a constant urge for him to lighten up.
But it’s not as though Pete is all innocent. Upon returning from his job helping a refugee camp, it’s all he talks about. This new pillar in his life overtakes any part of conversations that his friends use to update him on what is going on in their lives. There’s an equal pairing of narcissism and self-esteem warring inside Pete that becomes a problem in his own birthday celebration. Are his feelings unfounded and just an over-exaggeration of his anxious mind playing tricks on him? Gaynord utilizes clever devices like sound and tempo to throw the audience off—as if they are an observer in Pete’s mind.
One particular scene sees the group go duck hunting, and not only does Pete not ask to do it, but he’s terrible at it. The sounds of shotguns going off are loud and nerve-fraying. All of Pete’s friends get on him for being so bad when it’s over—the punchlines without the studio audience there to laugh. All My Friends Hate Me will have you thinking about how you may have unintentionally made a fool of yourself.
Some of the scariest things in life aren’t a ghost or a werewolf — it’s the anxiety of being the butt of the joke or not in on it. Our need to find belonging to a community is paramount to our health and psyche. However, holding on to what used to be and not being open to the now is counterproductive. The irony lies in the main character losing themselves in selfishness on their birthday week—a sometimes cruel, but comical, practical joke.
Photo Credit: Super LTD