All my friends hate me

Writer and comedy duo Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton’s 2022 English arthouse comedy-drama All My Friends Hate Me was a theatrical endeavour that delivered subjective genres and was met with mixed responses. However, we can view cinema abstractly to broaden our perspectives and celebrate filmmakers’ artistry.

All My Friends Hate Me: A Film That Will Stay With You Long After the Credits Roll

Telling the tale of a group of friends at a birthday bash in the English countryside, an intense and playful study of character is amusingly conveyed by interweaving horror and drama to showcase various points of view and themes. The film features a clever take on storytelling and communicates moral messages to its audience. Regarding British black comedy, All My Friends Hate Me is the questionable yet entertaining underdog plucked from 2022’s indie film realm. 

Though you might find yourself confused about what the movie was actually about, there’s no denying that AMFHM is a theatrical, understated character study. We are first introduced to Pete (Tom Stourton, who also co-wrote the screenplay) as he drives to his long-lost university friends’ upper-class estate in the English countryside. Pete’s friends planned a weekend-long birthday celebration, but the group encountered more uncomfortable situations than any planned fun.

The somewhat chauvinist-Brit gang begins to poke and prod at their mate with no explanation, gaslighting him (“Cheer up mate, it’s not loaded!” says Archie, ‘jokingly’ pointing a gun straight at Pete) and attesting to the level of school bullies. Noting the near-decade they had spent away from each other and the class differences, Pete faces many external and internal conflicts, resulting in a self-reflective meltdown. 

BFI’s Sight & Sound Magazine critic, Mark Kermode, sums up the film’s brand well, calling it a ‘homegrown oddity.’ Despite its originality, the unorthodox mix of genres can perplex its audience. Though it was meant to be a comedy in the first place, the odd and irregular addition of thriller elements and cinematic dramatics confuse more than they strengthen the story.

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a praiseworthy 89% on its ‘Tomato Metre,’ though the audience reaction fell in at 62%. It can be said that within the stylistic choices and strange scriptwriting (and plot points) Pete’s mysterious university foe, Harry, enters the stage with an eerie soundtrack to accompany and he acts as an unexplained villain); it does stand by that 89% based on originality. 

All my friends hate me

The beauty of this film is that we are presented with clever contrasts between the quaint English countryside and the sterile, somewhat close-minded assumptions of the upper class. The  Independent coins it as a ‘posh-boys satire,’ Pete can be said to reflect the perspectives on class systems in the divisive UK. His paranoia and judgement towards his mates lead him to question and distaste who he surrounds himself with, as decades on, he finds that he is different from them. We as an audience know these feelings, as we may find ourselves insecure outsiders amongst friends, yet Pete’s problems lie in his sensitive point of view. 

He makes it all worse by establishing a moral hierarchy in himself,  continuously mentioning his soul-bearing work at refugee camps, compared to his friends who have grown. We are given very open options and suggestions to relate to or detest Pete as we begin to see that he is stranger than his counterparts. 

This film is the cinema of paranoia and analysing one man’s feelings in a setting of friends who indeed have differences. As Sartre put it – “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (“Hell is other people”).  Though, this is more so Pete’s view. The fear we have amongst our differences shows Pete’s delusions and judgement of others who were once there for him, reflecting upon how he sees himself as better than his counterparts.

Pete: A Relatable and Unlikable Protagonist

The close curtain features Pete joined with his new girlfriend, Sonia,  whom he’d reluctantly introduced to the gang, sitting in the manor’s darkened drawing room,  adorned with whiskey and taxidermy deer heads. Any moral predicament previously led up to this, as Pete melts into a breakdown in response to the abuse hurled at him. Observing the aggressors has him acting as the aggressor, as the elicit delusions have him spiral into a meltdown.  

Palmer and Stourton deliver what is either a great character study or foolish comedy. We are all individuals, and whilst privileged conservatives aren’t great company, is that the extent of these characters? We are taken on a literal wild goose chase, and while all his friends may or may not hate him, we see how insecurity and indulgence corrupt. We really can be limited by our  judgements, fears, or outlooks on life, as seen in ‘All My Friends Hate Me’.