All My Friends Are Dead Movie Review: A fun, if bumpy, ride
This Netflix Polish movie has its share of flaws and mind-blowing moments, and makes for a decent teen thriller
French playwright and poet Molière said, “Life is a tragedy to those who feel and a comedy to those who think.” Netflix’s All My Friends Are Dead illustrates the converse of this quote – it brings chuckles to those who feel its absurdity, but if you think about it, the movie is a tragedy.
A newbie cop and his senior partner enter a crime scene, only to find the house littered with dozens of bodies. One man hangs from a noose of décor lights, one man seems to have died after choking on his own vomit, a few have been electrocuted, and the rest have bullet-holes. All this has happened over the course of one party night, and what went down at that ill-fated house makes up the film.
Director: Jan Belcl
Cast: Julia Wieniawa-Narkiewicz, Adam Graf Turczyk, Mateusz Wieclawek, Monika Krzywkowska
Streaming on: Netflix
Right off the bat, the initial scenes suggest that this will be a dark, absurd comedy. So, when the characters are introduced one-by-one, with internal conflicts between them, the plot seems like a no-brainer. From this point, the story develops much like an undercooked teen drama. Just when we start to lose patience, tension builds, and one of the many lead characters, Marek (Kamil Piotrowski), gets killed in an insane fashion. The film’s tone changes, and suddenly, the suspense and eeriness pump up. Even as more sub-plots branch out, the film manages to sustain the tension, and even the rare stretch of uninspiring writing hints at a bigger retribution in the end.
Then comes the showdown sequence. Heavy metal plays in the background, and the scene keeps intercutting from one bullet-spewing gory death, to a gut-churning fistfight in the middle of the hall, to a lead character having a mental breakdown in the laundry room, to a couple having explosive, loud sex with no sense of the atrocious calamity that’s happening outside. The scene is over-the-top, definitely, but the staging and picturisation are really worth the entire wait.
When you look back, the film does have the makings of a teen thriller, especially given the characters, some with really interesting qualities. But, while their arcs tail out in style in the aforesaid potluck of atrocity, till then, they end up looking really lifeless (pun intended) because of the clichéd writing.
There is an exception to this, and that’s the character of a pizza delivery boy (Adam Bobik). The ultimate fate of the character takes the cherry of this blood-red velvet – it’s the writer’s satirical comment on the existence of a purpose to life - a comment that extends till the final shot. Moreover, the pizza guy’s death doesn’t bear much relevance to the others. It would have been tempting for the writer to tie everything together and do a wannabe parody of Final Destination, but that doesn’t happen here. It’s not a story about death knocking down the door, but that of the careless, debaucherous lives of the characters paving the way to untimely deaths.
One really noteworthy idea is the inclusion of a couple of strangers who sit on a bench outside the house. They just witness all the shenanigans and also provide added levity with their stone-cold expressions. They’re the third-party eyes that help ground this story. Without them, it would be only too easy to separate this horror-house from reality.
In the end, All My Friends Are Dead does make us go, “What the hell did I just witness?” But maybe that’s the whole point of this cynical, raunchy, darkly funny, if imperfect, Polish teen thriller.