All My Friends Hate Me, or: when a title describes a universal fear.
Through a coup de perspective, this new movie — in theaters presently! — repositions a familiar premise into a relatable horror.
A former degenerate leaves behind the debaucherous friends of his youth to “make something of his life.” After years of giving adulting a chance, he reunites with his old comrades for a weekend away…only to discover they seemingly haven’t changed a lick. Whereas he’s been trying on maturity for size, they’re still addicted to raging revelry.
Does he fit in with them anymore? Or do they all not-so-secretly hate who he’s become, as much as he’s come to hate who he was, and who they still appear to be? How easily being the “odd man out” can morph into “ARE THEY ALL OUT TO GET ME” for an active, fragile imagination. Was inviting him to this shindig an elaborate ruse on their part? A good-natured prank he can’t wrap his noggin around?? Or is he in the middle of a nefarious, insidious scheme??? ARE THEY EXACTING CRUEL REVENGE ON HIM?? A “WE’LL SHOW YOU, MR. GROWN” COMEUPPANCE FOR BAILING ON THEM???????
The guy is so insecure about this whole arrangement — or is it a set-up?? — and about whether the “new version” of himself blends into his once-comfortable environment, that he lets the sheer volume of his self-doubt convince him he’s been cast in a horror movie of their devising.
But the real horror, we learn, is the horror of woeful perception and self-obsession. The dude is so inside his own head — and so up his own “new” ass — that he loses touch with the truth of the situation. “Something’s afoot! There must be an explanation for all this awkwardness and weirdness and general oddity! But it’s totally them, not me! Obviously!”
But he’s analyzing every interaction through a corroded filter: his own fallible interpretations. And faulty evaluations beget faulty responses. He views himself as such a victim of their shenanigans, at every juncture, that he overlooks his own mistreatment of them.
To say the least!
He meets their misconstrued micro-aggressions with overt aggression; how quickly a self-assessed belief in needing to defend yourself — from nothing! — can lead to unwarranted attacks on your erroneously-presumed aggressors. He’s so caught up in his concocted nightmare that it pervades his entire sense of reality. If you reside inside the movie in your brain, and if that movie doesn’t match what’s really going down in your world, then how can anyone expect to bridge this divide?
Which is a central question of human cognition, a question that’s reflected in how the movie distorts the audience’s conception of what they’re watching. Because the camera is so consumed in the main character’s self-absorption, the audience is liable — guilty as charged! — to adopt his focus on figuring out WTF is happening here, a pursuit that can somewhat blind us to what’s staring us smack in the face: the derangement of his own psychosis! We can’t help but see through his plagued eyes; his backwards sight dictates our vision on the proceedings.
All My Friends Hate Me reminds us that our understanding of what we observe and intuit can be massively deluded — on screen and off — to the point where, if life is seen as a movie, then we might think we’re in a very different flick than we’re actually in.
When the bubble bursts, and he crash lands back into realizing his many mistakes in judgement and behavior — with his soon-to-be? fiancé in attendance, horrified at the scene! — he ends up at a place of utter befuddlement. If he can’t trust his own perception, of neither himself nor his surroundings, then how the fuck can he hope to manage…um…you know…life?
The final scene hammers home this hellacious conundrum. On the drive back, he proposes to his gal, to no avail; she rejects his offer, citing the dastardly spectacle just witnessed. He can’t even argue with her….until she informs him that she’s only joshing, of course she’ll marry him! God, she mocks, can’t he take a joke??
A triumphant smile beams across his face, but it gradually mutates into an expression of cold hard confusion upon further reconsideration. If the weekend taught him anything, it’s that he has no idea how to read reality, a radical inability that could haunt his existence for…well…forever.
A life like that can feel as if you’re living in a self-perpetuating horror movie.