Film Review: Kill Your Friends (2015)

Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is a man not to be trusted in this comedy crime-thriller.
Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is a man not to be trusted in this comedy crime-thriller.

1997. London. The music industry is run by self interested individuals who have total contempt for the people buying their music and are acting solely in search of the next biggest hit. According to John Niven who wrote the book on which this film is based – this is a fairly accurate account. As is the ruthlessness and excessive use of cocaine and other drugs. Given the title ‘Kill Your Friends’ and the fully justified 18 certificate, let’s put it another way. If you don’t like excessive violence, a main character with the only goal of looking after number one and drug taking to the extreme then this is not the film for you.

The opening of the film sets the scene well. Nicholas Hoult (yes, that one from About a Boy and Skins) plays our main character, Steven Stelfox, who begins by delivering a monologue to camera whilst also talking to his cocaine addicted colleague Waters (Corden). Eagle-eyed viewers may note from the start Stelfox’s desire to be in control at all times – best shown in this opening sequence when he gets drinks for them both, spikes Waters drink with various substances, persuades and chides him to dance around the floor like a dog – and when Waters inevitably passes out, pisses all over him whilst he takes a cab home. This is a main character not to be liked.

In fact one of the great harsh realities of this film is that some people simply aren’t very nice. Hoult plays Stelfox as a young man with total contempt for everyone but himself. Those looking for redemption in the character should realise that even when this shimmers like a beacon towards the end of the second act of the film it’s merely an act. Stelfox is out for all he can get – by any means necessary.

Do not be under any illusions. The murders here whilst pre-meditated in a fashion are as much a product of Stelfox’s ruthlessness as they are the desire of the other members of the supporting cast to try and further their own needs in return for keeping the first inevitable death quiet. From the unassuming secretary, Rebecca (Georgia King) to the investigating DC Woodham (Edward Hogg) – the moral values are practically non-existant, leaving you to feel almost sorry for those in the film that don’t.

If there is to be any criticism of the film it isn’t the far fetched nature of the plot, it’s the time it takes everything to come to a head, though it is ultimately satisfying. You could argue that this enables the film to explore why Stelfox can’t be redeemed – however the middle act of the film does feel quite slow with the motives of the characters painfully thinly layered as we build to the conclusion.

In short – if you can stomach the violence, the drug taking and totally abhorrent attitudes in this film and can take it for exactly what it is then this is a film you will enjoy. There is a lot to like, and whilst some aspects can be moaned about, if you hold in place that this is supposed to be a dark comedy crime-thriller that sends up quite a few genres (which is does successfully) then this is definitely a film to go and watch.

Nutleyone rating: 3/5

Kill Your Friends was released in the UK on 6th November 2015 and is available to watch in cinemas now.