It was only a matter of time before Kill Your Friends, John Niven’s infamous book about the A&R industry in Britain during the 90’s, was turned into a film. The tale of Steven Stelfox, a talent scout desperate to save his dwindling career, is a gruesome mix of Trainspotting, Wolf of Wall street and American Psycho. And for all the grotesque and visceral qualities of the book, it’s also very funny.
Now the film, Kill Your Friends, starring Nicholas Hoult, Colin Roberts and James Corden, has come to British screens.
The casting is good. Nicholas Hoult – About A Boy’s childhood star who went on to make it big in Channel 4’s cult series, Skins, is totally at ease as a psychotic lead. Confident, charming and increasingly creepy Hoult leads the audience down the rabbit hole of debauchery and handles the character’s murderous traits with good humour, keeping the audience on side throughout. Colin Roberts provides a humorous sidekick and Edward Hogg, the suspicious detective willing to compromise his integrity for a record deal, inspires some pity through his misguided dreams of stardom.
Yet unlike Stelfox, there’s a sense of fear in this film, of not wanting to go too far or push the boundaries beyond decency. Or perhaps it’s more simply a lack of imagination: No character is developed, the violence is mundane, the drug taking uninspired and in general Owen Harris’ film is too neatly packaged to communicate the supposed chaos. As such, it fades away soon after memory.
In all, a perfectly entertaining film that won’t leave you with much other than the desire to buy a ‘best of the 90’s’ album.