Movie review of “Kill Your Friends”: Nicholas Hoult plays a thoroughly amoral British record-company executive who will stop at nothing to rise through the management ranks in this poisonous drama. Rating: 1.5 stars out of 4.

Share story

There’s a little problem with “Kill Your Friends,” the title of the movie under current consideration. It implies that someone ­— or anyone — in the picture has any friends.

This is not the case.

A more disagreeable collection of cynical, backstabbing, self-aggrandizing, shallow, vicious and vile specimens of humanity gathered together in a single motion picture would be difficult to conceive of.

Movie Review ★½  

‘Kill Your Friends,’ with Nicholas Hoult, Georgia King, Ed Skrein. Directed by Owen Harris, from a screenplay by John Niven, based on a novel by Niven. 102 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (language, violence, sexual situations). Varsity.

Friends? None here. People perhaps deserving of violent elimination from the gene pool? No way would I ever concede such a thing. No way. Though truth be told, there were times, watching this, when it occurred to me that if an asteroid were to arrive from space to blot out this lot, the world, or what would be left of it, would be a better place.

The characters are all people in the British music industry in the year 1997. The protagonist is a young A&R — Artists & Repertoire — executive from a London record label. Nicholas Hoult (“Warm Bodies,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”) plays him with an acidic intensity that’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Hoult’s character is thoroughly repellent, a schemer single-mindedly dedicated to rising through the ranks of his label’s management hierarchy. Fueled by cocaine, soaked in alcohol, he’ll stop at nothing, from blackmail to, yes, murder, to eliminate rivals.

He breaks the fourth wall repeatedly to proudly proclaim his contempt for musicians and music fans. He admits he has no love for or knowledge of music. The only thing he loves is the money hit records will make, which will allow him to hang onto his job.

The directorial debut of Owen Harris (whose prior credits are commercials and TV work), “Kill Your Friends” is based on a 2008 novel by John Niven. Niven wrote the screenplay, based on his experiences as an A&R man during the time period of the picture. It’s semiautobiographical and so is presumably an accurate depiction of the scene back then. It certainly is uncompromising in that portrayal.

It also makes you feel like stepping into a nice hot shower afterward to wash the picture off.