Monday, October 19, 2009

Unleash the killer within!

One of the more unusual movies I've seen in quite awhile is How To Be A Serial Killer.

Set up as - and I hope I'm not assuming incorrectly - a parody on all those self help seminars you see advertised, HTBASK is a real trip. It almost seems like a documentary at times, and I think that is very much the idea here.

You meet Mike Wilson (Dameon Clark) serial killer extraordinaire, who is first seen on stage explaining the methods one needs to learn in order to become a better and more prolific mass murderer. Like an almost annoying self-help guru, he goes through the various steps - explaining how to choose victims, the weapons ('there are soooo many different ways to off someone!'), how not to get caught, etc... It really kind of plays like how it would be if the BTK killer had his own reality show.

(Well I hope he actually got to mow his lawn before his little "accident")

In between the vignettes, Mike's actual story is told. Turns out he is looking for a protégé - someone to teach his wealth of knowledge to regarding the murder industry.

Meet Bart.

Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler of Criminal Minds fame) works at a dead-end video store clerk job when Mike comes in and witnesses some random asshole giving Bart a hard time. While said jerk-off is perusing the comedies, Mike asks Bart just exactly what he would do to the twit if given the chance.
Bart is very meek, very much the nerdy dolt he appears to be. But when he tells Mike he'd go to the hardware store, buy a sledge hammer and proceed to bash in the customer's head, Mike knows he's found his boy wonder.

(A sledgehammer? Really? Quite inventive.)

And so begins a dubious friendship destined for disaster.

We watch as Mike shows Bart all the ins and outs. Picking victims, avoiding detection, how to handle and use various weapons... and everything goes well until Mike's live-in girlfriend Abigail gets a little too curious for her own good. From then, Mike's life spirals into a downward vortex of ill fortune. And Bart's along for the unfortunate ride.

While at first one might think this film is silly or more like an infomercial, it warrants patience - as it does pick up speed.

I found myself rooting for Mike, and to me that seemed the norm - I tend to think serial killers are quite glamourized in this country. Celebrities, if you will. I mean, look at all the media attention people like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer got. Not to mention Charles Manson - whose parole hearings (after 40 years in prison) still parade his ugly, swastika-emblazoned mug on the nightly news. And just how many movies have been made about real-life famous murderers? (I can name five in five seconds. Monster, The Deliberate Stranger, Ed Gein, Helter Skelter, and Gacy - just to name a few)....These guys (and gals, mind you) get alot of clout from their crimes, and we let it happen.
So this movie seems justified in that respect.

At times it's funny, almost hysterical - in the most warped way. The Complete Idiots Guide to Serial Killing, if you will.

The acting is really good. Gubler as Bart is in my opinion brilliant casting. To play a geek is no stretch for him, as he does it on a weekly basis as the nerdy intellectual genius on Criminal Minds...but to put him on the opposite side of the train tracks and make him be the aspiring killer? Liked it. He was spot on.

Matthew Gray Gubler and Dameon Clark as Bart and Mike.

Clark as Mike was very good as well. I found him quite linked into the Ted Bundy stereotype here. Good looking, intelligent, and charismatic, all he needed was a fake cast and a VW Bug and I would have shouted Copy Cat for sure.

I've read a few reviews that seemed put off by the comedic overtones and felt there wasn't enough gore. Well, to that I say - you just didn't get it. They weren't making a gruesome Saw-like feature here.
Don't you people know how to laugh at horror once in awhile? Grab yourself a copy of Shaun of the Dead for Christ's sake and make an evening of it. (Not that this movie was up to SOTD caliber. Nothing is, so don't even attempt to find anything superior!)

While I will say the ending seemed rather over the top bordering on melodramatic, the whole of the film worked.

(So, now they serve beer in prison. Would make the inevitable sexual assaults more tolerable, no?)

One thing that did bug the shit out of me was the 70's porno music used throughout. At the very least it reminded me of an episode of Charlie's Angels or The Bionic Woman. Yikes.
Next time, dudes - please invest in someone who can score a film properly. Subtlety, guys. Please.

All in all though, a kitschy entry in dark horror comedy.

HorrorBlips: vote it up!

1 comment:

everything-gore17 said...

That beer is actually a steak sauce bottle, not trying to be overly picky, I just notice things :]