Thursday, June 17, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: All My Friends Hate Me

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

All My Friends Hate Me
Directed by Andrew Gaynord
International Narrative Competition – Screening Information

It’s often nice to reconnect with old friends after a period of time spent apart. The reason for a gap in get-togethers may be purely due to uncontrollable life factors like geography, work, and building a family, and reunions can be sweet opportunities to bask in nostalgia and remember the good old times. But people do inevitably change over the course of any period of time, and reencountering one another can be awkward if worldviews and interests no longer add up, and if some have matured while others have remained the same.

Pete (Tom Stourton) is going away for his birthday to celebrate with his friends from university who he hasn’t seen in a number of years. His girlfriend Sonia (Charly Clive) is coming to join them, but the festivities begin with just Pete and his former classmates gathered together at the large country home of his buddy George (Joshua McGuire). The unexpected presence of someone Pete doesn’t know, Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns), puts Pete on edge when he starts to believe that Harry has it out for him, first making jokes at his expense and then contributing greatly to a growing sense Pete has that something is very wrong.

This film is billed as a horror-comedy, and that’s because it presents a situation which at first seems perfectly harmless. Pete is getting to see those he likes a lot for the first time in ages, but of course he’s doing it at a giant mansion with many mysterious rooms that takes him plenty of time to find on his solo trip out there. Where the terror – or at least the very unsettling mood – seeps in is in Pete’s increasing isolation, inviting only the audience along for his frightening descent into madness, made to seem like he is the one who is seeing or assuming things when, as this film’s title suggests, all his friends don’t appear to like him very much at all.

Even if this wasn’t a psychological horror movie, it would be one that succeeds well at capturing the discomfort of not being seen. Pete’s friends plan activities for him that reflect a complete lack of understanding of what he would want to do, and then blame him when he doesn’t seem excited or grateful enough that they’ve been lavishly orchestrated. That element of the film should be most relatable to audiences, and the unnerving journey it takes culminates in a clever finish that only further cements the loneliness Pete feels that the audience gets to experience through him. It’s not an easy ride, but one that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do.


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