Directed by Jan Belcl, All My Friends Are Dead centres around a group of friends at a New Years Eve party who, over the course of what began as an innocent, fun night, become entwined in a series of disastrous revelations, secrets, betrayals, promiscuity and…murders.
Though the idea of ‘friends being at a party and something going wrong’ might be somewhat overdone in film, All My Friends Are Dead manages to maintain a certain level of unique-ness and intrigue throughout its 96-minute run – a signal of some proficient film making.
The film opens up with a scene of two detectives walking around the house in which the party took place, showing how the party (calamitously) ended. Then, using the reverse chronology technique, the film goes back in time revealing how such an end came to be.
All My Friends Are Dead executes this method brilliantly, with the opening scene teasing us with some strange details around the house (such as an axe in the door and writing on toilet paper) and as the film unfolds backwards, we learn what happened at the party and why the aforementioned happenings were there.
This leaves the viewer in a flood of aha moments throughout the film, showcasing the ingenious way in which this technique was used: with an eye for mystery and audience engagement. A genuinely grand use of this technique, that was executed with sincere flare and played to the film’s advantage.
For all that the film is a thriller, it has an undeniably good eye for comedy throughout its script, providing one with the sincere opportunity to crack up. A notably pure comedic moment throughout the film was when one character says to his seemingly ex-girlfriend ‘pissing’ on one another during sex is like kissing nowadays, everyone does it.
Moments like these showcase not only that the script is witty, but also that it is genuinely original at moments: a pattern visible within almost all of the film’s writing, which should not go without applause.
It is not only the wit and originality of the script that shines through but also its ability to keep us intrigued, engrossed and mesmerised with its few and far between yet splendidly shocking plot twists that keeps your head startled and your jaw open. If any film can shock you, it is doing something right. Thus the film, rather well, manages to balance a range of genres from comedy to horror to drama, pulling each one off surprisingly well.
The centre of the film’s credit (aside from its writing) is without a doubt the acting. The performances from each actor were both fantastic and realistic, with each actor thoroughly and unconditionally melting into their role.
Another notable point of applause is the directing within the film. Belcl managed to do some special things with his directing: whilst making sure each scene was smooth and flowy when moving between characters and their subplots, he also took some directorial decisions that benefitted the comedic element of the film.
One scene in particular that exemplifies this is when Daniel is rehearsing his speech for his girlfriend Angelica and a shot is taken in the room with him, and another, taken outside in the snow, which leaves us to see inside the room but not to hear him. This shot makes a serious scene for a character into something quite comedic for others leaving Belcl to showcase the power of directing and how he occasionally makes good use of it.
Though there was a lot to like about the film, there is, as is with any good thing, downsides.
The issues I have with the film is the occasional elements of sheer silliness and overdone raunch, that seem to add some sort of unnecessary and unwanted melodrama and weirdness to the film. The biggest example of such elements lies within one of the final, and most fatal scenes in the film, with a mass death scene. This scene was my biggest annoyance within All My Friends Are Dead. The deaths (of everyone in the house) are so unrealistic and purely nonsensical that the whole scene just comes across as dense.
I’m not really sure what Belcl was trying to do or create here, apart from perhaps some horrifying scene that would prove to be unforgettable, while it was horrifying, all that lingers, however, is a feeling of silliness above all else. This was annoying for the sole reason that the film had built itself into this rather well organised and well-written piece and it sort of let itself down in this way, ruining elements (as stated above) that actually worked really well.
Also on the note of weirdness and let downs, the raunchy nature of some scenes in the film were a bit overdone and seemed, honestly, rather unnecessary. They played to the silly nature of the film rather than contributing anything really interesting.
Overall, All My Friends Are Dead is a well-acted and, at most points, a well-written script which was executed (most of the time) with originality, cleverness and flare. Though some parts of the film were dense and unrealistic to the point of idiocy, it was a good film that added a slight bit more originality to the film sphere. It was an enjoyable and at times weird watch, that never seemed to be the subject of boredom.
All My Friends Are Dead well and truly exceeded my somewhat cynical expectations.
All My Friends Are Dead is now streaming on Netflix.
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