We’re all aware of the sheer importance of an opening scene, in setting the tone, the narrative and the precedence, for what is yet to come. In Owen Harris’ Kill Your Friends – adapted from John Niven eponymous novel – it’s absolutely imperative, as we meet our protagonist Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) and right from the very offset, we learn that he’s not somebody we’re going to become particularly fond of. We can gather this when he stands conscientiously over the passed out, half naked body of his colleague, urinating proudly on his bare skin, with a wry, imperious smile smacked across his face. This is a callous man who will do whatever it takes to get his own way – and the sooner we figure that out, the better.

Set in the latter end of the 1990s, Stelfox words in A&R at a prominent record label, thriving in a contemporary scene where Britpop and girl bands are dominating the charts. The passed out, pissed on colleague is Waters (James Corden), who is the favourite for a promotion, hence why Stelfox is attempting to ruin his career (he had blacked out, because his drink was conveniently spiked – with a potentially fatal concoction of drugs). The only thing Stelfox cares about is money, and the only thing that makes money, are hit singles – and so he jets off around the around with his impressionable scout, Darren (Craig Roberts) with the intention of returning back to London with a number one, a promotion – and an awful lot of money. But this idealistic life isn’t always so easy to attain, and he realises that in order to get what he wants, he may have to find another means of achieving it.

This endeavour works as something of a vehicle for Hoult to show off his acting ability, with an intense, intimate character study that provides the performer the platform to prove his worth. However he feels too young to play this role, not looking a day older than 24. Instantly that turns Stelfox into a go-getter, an ambitious youngster with dreams of making it to the top. But there’s something more sinister, more desperate, about somebody older acting the way he is, with an added sense of finality lingering over proceedings, the idea that there’s absolutely nothing to lose. But Stelfox is a rather pathetic man, as behind the facade is a lonely, forsaken individual with no real friends at all. But this is where Hoult comes into his element, when we see very brief shades of vulnerability – the man who actually isn’t very happy with his life; that’s when the role gets interesting. Hoult is less believable when playing the cocky, charismatic manipulator. That being said, there are definitely shades of Patrick Bateman about this role, who is certainly an influence on the actor’s performance.

The film suffers from being too stylistic in parts, presented in a contrived fashioned, particularly with the talking-to-camera sequences, breaking that fourth wall and ramping up the comedic elements along the way. However amidst that we lose sight of the darker aspects, and though this film is undoubtedly bleak and sinister, you feel the savagery could be even more prevalent, and feature more disquieting, harrowing sequences than it already does – not quite managing to find a compatible balance between frivolity and barbarity in a way that Filth triumphed in.

That being said, the world presented is an empty, ominous one, that offers a heightened take on reality, set in an industry where everybody is out to get their own way, not caring who they have to step over in the process. It’s a dog eat dog world – and let’s just say there are a lot of very hungry people in this particular endeavour.