How to Be a Serial Killer (2008)
Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Starring Dameon Clarke, Laura Regan, Matthew Gray Gubler, George Wyner
Directed by Luke Ricci
Are you tired of your life? Do you feel unappreciated? Do you feel like you're living up to your potential? No? Well, I'll tell you something...I believe in you. Dameon Clarke believes in you. Hell, everyone seems to believe in you but yourself! You can have that life you want. All you have to do is reach out and take it. Oh...And kill anyone who gets into your path. Would you like to know how? Then call the toll-free number and sign up for the seminar, and you too could be functioning, living the life, and cutting off your first human head while you're at it! Call now and discover...How to Be a Serial Killer.
This is a blacker than black comedy, with some truly side-splitting moments (in a weird way) and more than a few moments which make the audience wonder just what sort of crazy ride they've climbed on. Shot as part infomercial, part documentary, part narrative movie, the show follows Mike (Dameon Clarke), who skewers all the self-help gurus on late-night television with his own way of attaining all your life goals: Serial Killing. Throughout the movie he lays down ten easy steps, ethics, and demonstrates the use of common household items for use in your new chosen vocation. Along the way, he picks up Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler), a nerdy video-store clerk/doormat whom he takes under his wing and grooms him to be his protégé. Gleeful, blood-soaked mayhem ensues.
What makes this movie so good is that the lead serial killer, Mike, is just so damned endearing. Whether standing on a stage hawking his program or driving down the street with Bart, he just comes across as someone who genuinely loves his job. Of course, that job involves murder most foul, but hey...Nobody's perfect, right? He also has the ability to go from sweetheart to batshit crazy in about half a millisecond, which always serves to keep the audience right on that razor's edge. His partner, however, is his complete antithesis. Where Mike is confident, Bart is a simpering coward. Where Mike speaks with authority, Bart is terrified to say anything, and often whines as he does it. Bart's the kind of character most audience members will want to beat with a sock full of quarters until he stops being such a simpering idiot.
The movie does have a few slow moments, and there comes a point where the "I'm funny but psychotic" schtick gets tedious. But it all comes to a head in a scene that shows Mike with more depth than just a raving lunatic. And while the sub-plot of whether his girlfriend thinks he's gay and cheating with Bart is humorous, the lengths to which she goes to avoid questioning Mike are a little much.
So come on down! Get rid of that downer of a life and start getting the things you want! You deserve the good life, and you can have it too! But how far are you willing to go to attain your goals? Are you willing to sacrifice? Are you willing to kill to get them? I thought so.
3.5 out of 5
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