What’s a CD?
A&R rising star Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is dealing with a lot in his life, but not really. While he has to try and survive in a cutthroat business that cares more about selling stuff, rather than actually making sure that the stuff they sell is actually any “good” per se, he also has to keep a lot of his homicidal tendencies toned down. But when you’re constantly fighting for the next big names in music, that’s a lot easier said then done. Eventually, Steven starts to lose control and begins letting loose; occasionally killing someone every so often, having daydreams about doing something naughty, etc. But mostly, Steven just wants to rise up the corporate ladder, which is a lot easier to actually do when you don’t have the cops breathing down your neck. After all, Steven’s considered a prime suspect in the recent murder in a colleague of his, who he may, or may not have hated with a fiery, burning passion. Steven may be scared, but he still knows how to get what he wants, especially when all anybody else in his life wants or needs is just that feeling of being rich, famous and successful – something Steven can promise to nearly anyone.
Kill Your Friends seems like it wants to be a satire of the music-industry, but for some reason, it’s hard to look for anything that could be deemed “crazy” or “over-the-top”, that usually have to go along with satires. For one, it’s a look at the music-industry wherein real art or talent is sacrificed for trends, popularity, or what’s considered to be “in”. Those that who may actually contain a sliver of actual talent aren’t actually looked at in any way, but instead, left to fend for themselves on much smaller markets, where nobody pays attention to them, or gives them money for doing what they do best. Meanwhile, crap-acts that are popular and well-known to the masses because of that one popular song they made, are left to live it up, making money, partying their lives away and just generally being hacks from here on out.
If this sounds like the real world, hell, any art-form that becomes popularized, well then, you understand why Kill Your Friends isn’t so much of a satire, as much as it’s just a bit of social commentary on the entertainment world.
At the same time, however, it’s also something else completely. Kill Your Friends uses the evil, maniacal, and back-stabbing world of the music-industry as a backdrop for it’s central characters sometimes homicidal tendencies, where we’re left to sit and wonder if he’s actually the worst person in this world, or if it’s just filled with a slew of bad apples, and he happens to be the most rotten out of them all. It’s almost like American Psycho where Patrick Bateman was definitely an incredibly sick, twisted and vile human being, but look at the company he keeps; is he really all that bad, or is he just the worst of them all, which isn’t totally saying much to begin with?
Kill Your Friends would love to be as smart or as fun as that movie, but instead, just wallows in its own misery. In a way, this is fine because it’s a nice juxtaposition from all of the fun-loving, spirited and poppy songs that we hear throughout, but it still doesn’t do much to actually draw you in. Whereas a movie like American Psycho realized that it was dealing with some clearly messed-up individuals and decided to have some fun with it all, Kill Your Friends wants to be all stern, serious and try to teach you a lesson. If there is any lesson to actually be learned here, it’s that the music-industry can’t be trusted and won’t just suck your spirit away, but probably also any hope you have for humanity in the world.
Clearly, this is nothing new, but hey, at least it’s nihilistic enough to keep some of this interesting.
Because, for the most part, Kill Your Friends relies heavily on its plot, that’s neither tense, nor exciting, but just a slog to get through. Occasionally, there will be a small bit of insight into the music world that really holds a mirror up, makes you think and laugh, but ultimately, it adds up to being something of worth thrown in a jumble that doesn’t always know what it wants to say or do. There’s a whole lot of cocaine, booze, sex, nudity, and British pop-jams, but for some reason, the movie’s never as exciting as any of that sounds – it just sits around, mopes around and asks for you to care about what it’s doing or saying.
If anything, Nicholas Hoult keeps the movie, as well as his antihero character, at least somewhat compelling. Hoult’s definitely grown-up a whole lot in the past few or so years, and here, as Steven Stelfox, we get to see his whole transition to adulthood basically complete itself and shows us signs of promise. While Stelfox wants to be a deeper character than he actually is, Hoult shows that there may be a tad bit more humanity to this character than originally shown, but it all sort of goes nowhere when we realize the movie is more interested in his sadistic antics, than his actual own personality, that will, on rare occasions, show brief signs of sadness, vulnerability and paranoia.
But who cares? Everybody’s making plenty of money for basically doing nothing, so what’s the point of it all?
Consensus: Kill Your Friends is neither as smart, nor as thrilling as it wants to be, but is, instead, a dry, dull, uneven and pretty boring look inside the vicious world of the music-industry that we’ve seen before and don’t have any reason to care about now.
2 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire