This adaptation of John Niven’s foul-mouthed and bloody ’90s music industry satire – a sort of ‘American Psycho’ for the Britpop and drum ’n’ bass generation – is fitfully amusing but too tired to convince. Nicholas Hoult struggles valiantly to nail the toxic charm of Niven’s antihero Steven Stelfox, a coked-up London music biz A&R man willing to kill to be successful. But the ‘X-Men’ star is not the right man for the job, and it doesn’t help that Stelfox’s blissfully lucid and non-PC inner monologues have been toned down for the screen.
When the film does hit home, it’s via Niven’s savage, cover-your-ears dialogue (one girl-band wannabe is accused of being prepared to ‘gobble a donkey to meet Mark Morrison’ – no, it’s not meant to be pleasant). Elsewhere, ‘Kill Your Friends’ feels like neither an evocative period piece or a more universal yarn. Instead, it hovers awkwardly between the two, and TV director Owen Harris turns in a dully literal imagining. Still, there are some genuine laughs, and the air of deep-frozen cynicism reminds you that Niven’s book was on to something behind the violence and farce.