“#AMFAD: All My Friends Are Dead” Highlights the Worst of Gen Z Culture

In recent years, the social media landscape has become increasingly horrific. Feeds are now swarmed with influencers, trolls, and manipulative hashtags, not to mention incompetent billionaires stumbling at the wheel. Wherever we go, our phones go with us and tether us to a massive pool of anonymous accounts just waiting to judge. Studies have also shown the negative effects social media has on younger generations, a phenomenon on full display in Marcus Dunstan’s #AMFAD: All My Friends Are Dead. Sarah (Jade Pettyjohn) and her friends post every second of their lives and their obsessive scrolling is matched only by a killer determined to post their elaborate deaths. But this garish slasher takes the wrong lessons from the social media environment it’s trying to skewer and delivers an overwhelming film that barely makes sense. 

We’re introduced to this group of terminally online college students preparing for a road trip to a celebrated music festival that was once the site of a grisly murder. Despite this ominous backdrop, these self-involved teens are more concerned with gaining likes and new followers than the specifics of the trip. When a blown tire leaves them stranded en route, they spend the night at a nearby rental house and fall into the clutches of a neon-masked murderer. Decades ago, the Seven Deadly Sins Killer (#SDSK) attacked a group of concertgoers then staged the bodies to reflect each sin. Now it seems this group of bickering coeds will be the next human materials in his macabre art show. 

Watching #AMFAD: All My Friends Are Dead feels like scrolling through a violent feed. The ideas are loosely tied together, but nothing ever seems to gel. This gimmicky hook–the seven deadly sins–has virtually nothing to do with the new group of victims and we don’t learn enough about the original crime to connect the dots. With cheap-sounding music perpetually undercutting the action, each scene feels like a series of vaguely connected reels rather than a coherent story. We’re never sure if we’re watching a Scary Movie-style spoof, an earnest slasher, or a sensitive message movie and Dunstan fails to land on a consistent tone. The humor feels forced and comments skewering exploitative True Crime entertainment are too random to have much impact. 

These fumbles could be excused with a likable cast. Unfortunately none of Sarah’s friends feel even remotely authentic. They’re a collection of outsized stereotypes and it’s difficult to tell them apart or believe they would ever be friends. As the token normal person, Pettyjohn does well with the ridiculous material, but her character’s arc is painfully obvious. Mean Girl Mona (Jennifer Ens) delivers the film’s strongest performance, but her extreme cruelty and vapid narcissism eventually veers into parody. JoJo Siwa plays a small, but pivotal role in the mystery, but her connection to the larger group is tenuous at best. More than just flawed characters, these disparate friends are so unlikeable that we begin to actively root for the killer to finish them off. 

The film’s one saving grace is a handful of interesting kills. While admittedly contrived and absurd, each murder tops the last with gruesome dismemberment and flying gore. Dunstan draws from his experience with The Collector and the Saw franchise, but the neon saturation and youthful vibe keeps us from fully indulging in the nihilism. While the constantly spewing bodily fluids do eventually become grating, the increasingly macabre effects help to distract from a ridiculous twist. The final reveal manages to be both obvious and inscrutable with a series of stinger-esque codas tacked on to muddy the waters. 

Dunstan throws absolutely everything at the wall hoping for a modern update of a tried and true formula. A last-minute reversal undercuts the forced sentimentality and the final act drags us through a cavalcade of conflicting emotions. Every scene feels like an over-the-top reenactment of something we’ve seen before or exploitation of a serious social issue all strung together with the slasher formula. There’s no joy to be found in this frustrating film and by the end we’re relieved when all these friends are finally dead. 

Jenn Adams is a writer, podcaster, and film critic from Nashville, TN. Find her social media nonsense @jennferatu.

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