I first heard about this movie at Comic Con a couple of years ago (there was a postcard on the Freebie table) and then again when I fell in love with Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds and looked him up to see what else he was in. (If anyone’s keeping count, I’m in love with at least 17 different men on any given day. I don’t discriminate much. If he is even marginally attractive and has a fictional persona for me to adore, I’ll probably have an infatuation for at least a week.)
Anyway, having a general enthusiasm for low-budget, independent, dark comedies, I figured a movie about the benefits of serial killing would be right up my alley.
And it was funny . . . but it was lacking, too.
Mike (Dameon Clarke) is a serial killer who believes that not only can serial killing boost your self esteem and make you a better man, it can also be a gift to help out humankind. He decides to teach his philosophy to awkward, video clerk loner, Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler).
1. This film is done mockumentary style, and I mostly like it, although I wasn’t thrilled by how they wrapped it up—it’s sort of a predictable ending. But I really enjoyed all of the “lessons” and testimonials from all of the other characters, so, for the most part, the framework does work.
2. Except . . . the whole concept of the movie seems like it might work better for a short film. Not that you can’t have a full-length feature about a guy promoting serial killing, but the first half of the film goes over the same material again and again, like they ran out of things to do until the big turning point in the film. The acting between the two guys is good, but it’s a comedy with essentially one joke, and that joke gets repeated over and over again. And while watching the relationship between Mike and Bart is interesting—I like getting to see hints of Mike’s sociopathic nature underneath all that charm—we get at least three or four versions of the same damn scene, and after awhile, that just isn’t funny anymore; it’s repetitive.
3. To be fair, when the action finally does start happening, it happens quick. And I was surprised by this: I thought they were leading up to this big dramatic event near the end of the movie, but that event comes earlier than expected and is almost underplayed to great comedic effect. So, I liked that.
Still, pacing is kind of a problem. The movie starts off strong, kind of whimpers out, comes back with a bang, is awesome for a while, and kind of whimpers out again at the end. It’s probably my biggest problem with the movie.
4. Acting, on the other hand, was not a problem at all. There are a few different characters in the film, but the only ones that are really important are Mike and Bart. Dameon Clarke as Mike is fun—he nails the little motivational speaker sermons he has to give, and he’s successful at swinging back from dangerous to easy going guy in a matter of seconds. And I like Matthew Gray Gubler as Bart, too. A lot of the time, he’s just there to stare adoringly at Mike and be awkward, but there are few times during the film that he throws out a line that seems way creepier than anything Mike has said. He also has a nice freak-out scene in the car that was a refreshing change of pace from, “Okay, Mike, that’s totally cool. Wow, you’re like super incredible.” Although he does veer straight back into that after about two minutes.
Still. I am now officially interested in seeing Matthew Gray Gubler as a serial killer in a film. Maybe awkward Bart can meet up with awkward May (from May) and they can be awkward and scary together.
5. While I’m thinking about it, though: Gubler, while it’s okay in this film cause you’re supposed to look kind of scuzzy, I don’t think scruff is for you. And at the very least, you can’t have long hair and scruff at the same time. Stick with your current boy band cut. I like that.
6. This movie’s pretty low-budget, but it doesn’t detract much from the film—it works for the storyline, and I kind of liked the simplicity of the murder scenes. For a movie about serial killing, this movie isn’t particularly gory, and while I always approve of gore, the lack of it’s actually okay here.
7. I also did laugh quite a bit while watching this movie. Here are some good lines that I liked:
- Mike: “I had no idea that serial killing was even an option. It’s not like they covered that at Career Day.”
- Mike: “There are over six billion people in this world, and it’s no secret that a lot of them deserve to die.”
- Mike (on why you don’t kill handicapped people): “That’s cheating.”
- Bart: “Is that rope? I love rope!”
- Bart (while excitedly waiting to see what’s in Mike’s secret box of goodies): “What’s in there? Grenades!? Nunchucks!? What do you got? Oh, sweet, clothes.”
I had fun watching How To Be A Serial Killer, but it did get awfully repetitive, and I was a little bored for a good thirty minutes of the film. It was enjoyable enough, but it just could have been so much better. Ultimately, I was a little disappointed.
Serial killing makes you a more confident person. You can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you believe in yourself. Be the ball!