Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How to Be a Serial Killer

Directed by Luke Ricci.
2009. Rated R, 88 minutes.
Dameon Clarke
Matthew Gray Gubler
Laura Regan
George Wyner

Mike Wilson (Clarke) is a serial killer and proud of it. So much so, he doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge of the ins and outs of recreational murder. While perusing the aisles at the local video store he meets Bart (Gubler) who works there. When he sees Bart getting berated by a customer, Mike decides to help out the best way he knows. A short while later, the rude patron is dead and Mike takes Bart on as his protégé.

Bart asks tons of questions while tagging along on Mike’s excursions and Mike is only too happy to share. He answers his trainee’s inquiries in two ways. The first is simply him answering in the most obvious way: face to face. The other way is more geared towards us, the viewers. To this end, the movie is broken up into 10 lessons. Each lesson is given by Mike standing on a stage. Stylistically, this is a straight rip from Bronson, another movie about a career criminal. However, just like it does there, it works. After his little spiel, we switch back to “the real world”.

Speaking of “The Real World,” we’ve arrived at my chief gripe with this movie. Ever since that show first became a hit on MTV roughly two decades ago television, particularly reality TV has been littered with people speaking directly to the camera about their feelings on what we’ve just seen or what we are about to see. How to Be a Serial Killer utilizes this tactic, as well. It’s a tired gimmick that only serves to repeatedly stop the flow of what is otherwise a morbidly enjoyable dark comedy.

Thankfully, through it all we have the gleefully insane performance of Dameon Clarke in the lead role. His character is not one we should like, but has a personality we’re drawn to. Clarke balances this very nicely. Of course, since it looks like the whold movie was made for roughly five bucks and very few of us know anyone who’s even heard of it, his work has gone completely unnoticed. As Bart, Gubler holds his own and has managed bigger and better things in his career (he plays on TV’s “Criminal Minds”). The two of them, plus the Herculean effort their characters put forth to keep all this a secret from Mike’s girlfriend Abigail (Regan) keeps us intrigued. The movie has its shortcomings, but it’s still low-budget, twisted fun.

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