English Psycho

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Don’t trust anyone in Owen Harris’s Kill Your Friends, a music industry satire, about Stelfox (Nic Hoult), a Machiavellian A&R executive at a UK record label in 1997, pre-Napster, when music labels had significantly more power. Adapted from John Niven’s novel, Kill Your Friends is largely interior: Stelfox provides constant voiceover and breaks the fourth wall. Inasmuch as there’s heavy cocaine usage, sex workers, contempt and cynicism, a murder, a doting secretary, and a smarmy detective involved, Kill Your Friends is basically a rework of Mary Harron’s American Psycho, which was also a sendup of greed from the POV of an unraveling insider. Hoult’s character and performance echoes Christian Bale’s in American Psycho: The way he slyly compliments his secretary; how he beats someone’s head in while raving about a singer-songwriter; his rote responses and excuses. The irony being that American Psycho‘s sociopath is a bigger fan of music than Stelfox, who “hates bands” and likes whatever is most profitable. Although there’s not much  backstory in American Psycho there’s none in Kill Your Friends. Nor does it aim for haunting ambiguity, preferring gleeful nihilism. And while American Psycho‘s sociopath murders his victims with nothing to gain, Stelfox’s murders are motivated by job prospects. In this way the movie is more akin to Filth, about a disturbed drug-addled cop looking for a promotion. Kill Your Friends has a catchy soundtrack, featuring Radiohead and The Chemical Brothers, and a corny ending that would make Frank Underwood proud.

By Alec Julian & Carrie White

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