Smack my rotten movie up
KILL YOUR FRIENDS ★ Directed by Owen Harris. Starring Nicholas Hoult, James Corden, Georgia King, Craig Roberts. 18 cert, general release, 103 min
After issuing a trigger warning to those terrified of bad writing, we offer a quote from this abysmal satire of the Britpop years. “What’s that bender’s problem apart from the Aids coursing through his veins?” Nicholas Hoult’s boorish A&R man says of a gay colleague.
Do you want another? Steven Stelfox, Hoult’s clumsily named character, notes a level of hilarity unmatched “since a roomful of Nazis chuckled over the blueprints to Auschwitz”.
Almost any decontextualised atrocity, however appalling, can make sense when placed within a compatible structure. The quips above seem, however, no more amusing when encountered amid the mountain of sewage that constitutes the script of Kill Your Friends.
Returning to an era most of us are happy to have forgotten, John Niven’s adaptation of his novel has Stelfox battering a colleague to death within minutes of the credits rolling.
It’s 1997 and everybody is on the hunt for the new Blur or Oasis. We might conclude that the pressure has driven our hero insane. Perhaps the problem is congenital. It seems more likely that his condition springs from Niven’s inability to shake plot details of American
Psycho from his panicked brain. Hoult tries his best, but he seems slightly embarrassed by the witless filth that keeps soiling his soft palate. Nothing else in the screenplay offers much relief from the childish picking of scabs. The film’s cacophonous variation on The Spice Girls manages to combine misogyny with snobbery in equal measure. A bizarre nano-cameo by Rosanna Arquette seems to be intended sympathetically, but is so clumsily written that we almost find ourselves sharing Stelfox’s misanthropic kickback. The rock bands, as is
so often the case in movies, are no more convincing than the group that once won ironic favour in a Kit Kat commercial.
Yet many respectable bands were sufficiently impressed to allow their music to be included. Cigarettes and Alcohol? Block Rockin’ Beats? Smack My
Bitch Up? I haven’t heard such kicking sounds since I last bought a pair of jeans.
Throughout it all, weary gags are made at the expense of notorious Britpop also-rans Menswear. I don’t know what you’re laughing about, Kill Your
Friends. You’re the Menswear of film. You’re Kula Shaker. You’re Shed 7. Sling your hook.
Nicholas Hoult as Steven Stelfox: embarrassed by the witless filth on display