This is a fun little slice of American Psycho-inspired debauchery. Nicholas Hoult is the leading man in Kill Your Friends, and plays artists and repertoire man Steven Stelfox in the late 1990s as British pop bands rise to stardom. He's crazy AF, and begins an unhealthy quest to find the next radio hit. Label owner Derek Sommers (Jim Piddock) does not exactly reward loyalty, just results, so Stelfox takes matters into his own, murdering hands. This surreal dark comedy offers some sweet tunes on the soundtrack and plenty of uncomfortable laughs. The narrative flames out just past the midsection, when the party becomes too much, but Kill Your Friends offers enough diversionary thrills to recommend.
Director Owen Harris shoots from a script by John Niven, which is based on his own novel. Stelfox, for all his quirks and felonious behavior, is actually one of the less terrible people in his industry. He is infuriated by the talentless cokeheads and sellouts who achieve label greatness, and goes about climbing the corporate ladder in his own special way. When he removes a rival from business, Stelfox gains a police shadow in investigator Woodham (Ed Hogg), who blatantly white-gloves the investigation in the hope that Stelfox will be impressed by his mixtape. Stelfox even uses attractive underling Rebecca (Georgia King) to help corner Woodham, ensuring he will not go down with the sinking ship.
The opening act of Kill Your Friends is lively and effective, providing much satire and dark comedy. Things get repetitive and less enjoyable at the halfway mark, when Stelfox begins succumbing to his mental and drug-induced demons. Early scenes offer wall-breaking, commentary-heavy humor. Stelfox discovers an "It" group that released a single with three words: "suck my dick." It is this kind of ridiculous revelation that works so well early on, and Kill Your Friends treats viewers to several subwoofer-heavy scenes proving "Suck My Dick" is, indeed, a worldwide smash.
Hoult handles his front-and-center duties well, and proves quite the compelling anti-hero. His comedic timing is good, and he is just cocky enough to sell his character. The soundtrack is quite enjoyable, too, and offers cuts from the aforementioned Britpop bands, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Gang Starr and Mark Morrison, among others. Since you do not want Stelfox to get busted, the Hogg character is mostly annoying, and the criminal investigation feels out of place. Like an extended hit from Stelfox's drug stash, Kill Your Friends starts off exciting but quickly feels like a bad idea. There is almost too much depravity, and the early satire is crowded by overly serious, drug-heavy drama in the final stretch. Still, this is a moderately entertaining, unevenly plotted sit.
The 2.39:1/1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is impressive, despite being squeezed onto a single-layer disc. The digitally sourced Kill Your Friends certainly lacks film-like grain, but there is enough fine-object detail and texture to satisfy HD fans. There are plenty of surprisingly bright and bold colors, which are nicely saturated, and black levels are inky and steadfast. I noticed no aliasing or compression hiccups.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix supports the pop music-heavy soundtrack with excellent clarity and range. Dialogue is clear and nicely layered with effects and score, and there is plenty of subwoofer action. Ambient effects pan the sound field, and the mix offers a relatively rocking experience. An English 2.0 Dolby Digital mix is also included, as are English subs.
PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:
Disc. Case. Slipcover. You also get a Trailer (2:03/HD) and Interviews with Nicholas Hoult (5:12/HD), James Corden (2:30/HD), Craig Roberts (2:06/HD), Owen Harris (7:20/HD), and John Niven (8:52/HD).FINAL THOUGHTS:
Fun while it lasts, Kill Your Friends is an uneven but effective dark comedy led by Nicholas Hoult's murderous record-label scout. The Blu-ray from Well Go USA offers strong picture and sound and a few interviews. Recommended.