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Film Review: A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life (2019)

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SYNOPSIS:

Lou is a poor, pitiful woman that is obsessed with a self-help guru. She befriends Val at one of the many self-help meetings she attends and the two decide to take a little trip together. Unfortunately, Val happens to be a serial killer and before you know it the bodies are piling up and Lou is soon way in over her head.

REVIEW:

I’d heard a lot of great things about A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life before I watched it, so I went into it with some high expectations. My main question after watching it? Did all the same people praising it watch the same movie that I did?

I didn’t think that it was a horrible movie by any means, but at the same time I just don’t think that it was nearly as great as all of other people have made it out to be. It does have a great cast and all (which is probably its biggest strength), but overall, I just didn’t think that it was anything special and I was left feeling more than a little underwhelmed after everything was said and done.

I’ll admit that the premise sounds promising. Lou is a pitiful woman that most people (including her overbearing mother) treat like garbage and she just takes it and tries to go on with her life. She is obsessed with bettering her life thanks to listening to a self-help guru that she is dying to meet in person. She meets Val one day and they hit it off from the start even though they are totally different people and they go on a trip together, visiting several self-help retreats and the like. The thing is though, Val is a cold-blooded serial killer who enjoys taking out whoever she wants in several gruesome ways. Sounds interesting, right? On paper it does, but I just thought that something was lost between the script and the actual execution of things. What could have been a fun little dark comedy instead becomes something else all together and I just wasn’t that impressed with the end result.

I think my biggest problem with the film is that it is just more boring than anything. We are subjected to way too many scenes where nothing happens other than Lou and Val sitting around talking about things, I just didn’t care about in the first place. When Val does start killing people none of the death scenes are really that memorable and most of them take place off screen for the most part.

I didn’t think that things got particularly interesting until maybe the last 20 minutes or so and I am still not sure if I liked the big twist at the end or not as it reminded me of the ending of High Tension in a lot of ways (which I despised and feel ruined the entire movie for me). I wasn’t expecting this movie to be a slasher flick or anything, but I was hoping there would have been a lot more death scenes and action in general.

On the plus side I did think that the cast was excellent. Katie Brayben really stands out as Lou and you can’t help but feel for her. She is a very sympathetic character and I found myself rooting for her for most of the movie. The same can be said for Poppy Roe as she does a great job bringing the character of Val to life. I thought she did a wonderful job in the role and she is probably the highlight of the film in my opinion. I also really liked Ben Lloyd-Hughes as the self-help guru that Lou is enamored with. He does such a good job playing this type of character and I think the best part of the film is when Val and Lou finally meet him, and we find out what type of person her really is. Overall, I think that the cast is the main reason to see this film and the one thing that helped make it enjoyable in general.

I just wasn’t a fan of A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life even though I really wanted to like it, especially after hearing so many positive things about it. I don’t think I was the target audience for it so people who are more into films of this nature will probably enjoy it a lot more than I did. I think that John Waters’ similarly themed classic film Serial Mom is a much better (and funnier) film, and while I didn’t necessarily hate this movie I don’t think it lives up to its hype and that I won’t be watching it again anytime soon. Check it out if it sounds like something you might be into, maybe you’ll see something in it that I didn’t.

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