ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME, directed by Andrew Gaynord and written by Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton, is considered comedic horror. However, it feels more in line with psychological comedy. The film follows Pete (Tom Stourton) who is reuniting with college pals for his birthday. But as the reunion progresses Pete wonders if his friends dislike him. The story is filled with awkwardness more than humor as we wonder if Pete’s correct or being paranoid. But there is a lack of something more that prevents the movie from being great. It’s a staid comedy, rather than a side-splitting spiral.
There is a lot of worry and discomfort when reuniting with friends we haven’t seen in years. Particularly in pivotal younger years. That is a time we are exploring our identity. We are still forming and to see those same friends years later would definitely induce nail-biting anxiety. The reunion gets off to a rocky start when Pete arrives to an empty house and waits, presumably hours, for the friends to get back from a pub. There’s always the fear of reconnecting with old friends and this is that meetup gone awry. Add in a perceived interloper at the meetup and sensitivities climb.
The remarkable acting increases the discomfort for viewers and Pete. We watch Claire (Antonia Clarke), Fig (Georgina Campbell), George (Joshua McGuire), and Archie (Graham Dickson) have the easy camaraderie that Pete struggles to fall back into. There’s a familiarity as many of us have, at one time or another, been in an awkward situation where it felt we couldn’t connect with those around us. The film does a stellar job holding this tension throughout the film and gradually increasing it to cringe proportions. From the joke that falls flat, to shared memories that only one party remembers or doesn’t; these scenes are peak cringy embarrassment.
The directing and edits do a stellar job of highlighting the acting and keeping the discomfort going. Such as when Fig is on the stairs, lecturing Pete about Claire and the angle shows the height difference, thereby emphasizing how small Pete feels with his friends. The film wonderfully captures the discomfort and sensitivity Pete has with overly familiar Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns), who is intent on making Pete the butt of a lot of jokes.
The comedy in ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME isn’t raucous, but the kind of comedy that forces a laugh to relieve discomfort. That is the prevalent comedy here along with Pete’s fear that he’s secretly despised by all his friends. That brand of comedy is entertaining and niche, especially when it’s the only type in the film. The film doesn’t have the occasional uncomfortable moment—it’s built on uncomfortable moments. They are rampant and endless. Audiences may be appreciative of the comedy even if their sides don’t split from laughter. Sometimes we can’t go back to old friendships and often how we perceive ourselves with people is far removed from how they see us. ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME is amusing cringe, but it could’ve been more impactful if that wasn’t all there was to it.
ALL MY FRIENDS HATE ME had its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.