As summarized by IMDB, American Psycho is about “A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he escalates deeper into his illogical, gratuitous fantasies.” It’s all about the greed of the 80s and obsession with status and appearances, such as when Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman goes ballistic when a colleague one-ups his meticulously designed business cards.
Well, imagine that same basic thing but transplanted to the British Music Industry of the late 90s. That’s kind of what Kill Your Friends looks like, with perhaps less ambiguity as to whether or not the on-screen deaths are real or simply in the main character’s head. Their Patrick Bateman stand-in is Steven Stelfox, played against type by the surprisingly chilly Nicholas Hoult. You loved him and his striking blue eyes as Beast in the new X-Men movies. Now, watch him as a gluttonous recording industry A&R man in the 90s who will literally kill to get the next big hit, even if that means offing a lovable friend played by the newly trendy late night host James Corden. The story is based on a John Nivens of the same name, with the author also serving as the screenwriter meaning he adapted his own book. Behind the camera is Owen Harris, a TV director making his feature debut, and the largely UK cast is filled out with people like Georgia King, Craig Roberts, Tom Riley, Joseph Mawle, Edward Hogg, Ed Skrein, Moritz Bleibtreu, and Rosanna Arquette.
Kill Your Friends will soon debut at the Toronto International Film Festival. Here’s the very, very NSFW trailer (there is some quick nudity) which debuted online earlier this week:
SlashFilm took the comparison one further and argued this looks like Entourage merged with Transpotting merged with American Psycho. That might be the perfect model because many people would have likely enjoyed Entourage more if one member of their crew snapped and started methodically killing off everyone else, one by one, in hilariously brutal ways. However, I hope there is more to it than that because I have a keen interest in the mechanics of the music industry of the 90s, and although I don’t expect documentary-like details from Kill Your Friends I do hope for a movie which captures the height of gluttony on the eve of the eventual collapse of the recording industry as we had known it. At the very least, I do hope for something which distinguished itself from the obvious reference point, i.e., American Psycho, and I can’t honestly tell if does, based on the trailer. Nicholas Hoult does appear to be delivering a helluva performance, though.
And, of course, if you’ve never seen and/or read American Psycho then none of my reservations matter because this type of story will seem fresh to you.
London, 1997; the British music industry is on a winning streak. Britpop bands Blur, Oasis, Radiohead rule the airwaves and Cool Britannia is in full swing. 27-year-old hit chasing A&R man Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is slashing and burning his way through the music business, a world where ‘no one knows anything’ and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public – “Yeah, those animals”.
Fueled by greed, ambition and inhuman quantities of drugs, Stelfox searches for his next hit record amid a relentless orgy of self-gratification. Created by an industry that demands success at any price, as the hits dry up and the industry begins to change, Stelfox takes the concept of ‘killer tunes’ to a murderous new level in a desperate attempt to salvage his career.
Kill Your Friends is a dark, satirical and hysterically funny evisceration of the Nineties music business. A time and place populated by frauds, charlatans and bluffers; where ambition is a higher currency than talent, and where it seems anything can be achieved – as long as you want it badly enough.
The UK gets this on November 6th. As for the rest of us? Well, that’s why movies like this go to film festivals. Hopefully it will pick up a US distributor out of TIFF. The way things have been going lately, it seems a prime candidate to go straight to VOD. Wherever it ends up, I look forward to checking it out for Hoult and Corden plus the promise of a killer soundtrack (no pun intended) of 90s Brit-pop. At the very least, I look forward to reading the reviews after its TIFF premiere. What about you?