The journey towards self discovery is not just limited to coming of age stories. Even as adults, feelings of angst, awkwardness, and assumed loneliness follow some. A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life takes an increasingly popular trend to tell a charming and frightening story of trying to find oneself.
A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is about Louise, a girl trying to better her life. She becomes a self-help addict, going to various therapy sessions and trying to make sense of her life. When she finds a life coach in Val Stone, Lou’s life takes a sudden and violent turn. Is it the change she has been looking for or is it much more than she bargained for?
Written by Staten Cousins-Roe, the story walks a very thin line. A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life correctly calls itself a horror comedy. The audience will laugh and there are fear inducing moments. The difficult part is the plot wants its viewers to get behind a pair of murderers. Even in a humorous context, it is asking a lot of the audience when making cold blooded killers the protagonists.
Yet, it works. The story is able to pull this off by never trying to justify all the killing. Neither Val nor Lou are portrayed as virtuous or trying to make the world a better place. Instead, the two are seen as troubled souls. One can even say the duo are selfish and narcissistic. Lou is constantly in search of approval while Val always tries to exude confidence and wisdom. A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is more about exploring characters.
The strong performances of the leading ladies are highlight of the film. Katie Brayben is excellent as Lou. The audience learns what type of person Lou is when she is introduced. Meek and unassuming, she allows others to walk all over her. Brayben does an excellent job of conveying the pent up emotions of Lou. From the awkward interactions to an embarrassed smile, Brayben brings life to the character.
Poppy Roe is fantastic as Val. When the audience first meets the would be world’s greatest life coach, she is has a femme fatale quality about her. This mystery lasts with the character even as more is revealed. Roe is able to use facial expressions and mannerisms to convey what she is feeling and her vacant stare is very frightening. She also carries the natural charisma that is inherent in many fictional serial killers.
Together, the two have great chemistry. Lou immediately begins to look up to Val. Over the course of A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life, the audience learns just how important that approval is to Lou. It is also clear that Val wants to help her travelling companion. Though there will be comparisons, this is more than just a Thelma and Louise knock off. The leads may be female, but the themes of camaraderie and self improvement are universal.
The movie is also genuinely funny. For starters, it is never afraid to delve into slapstick. This is great since the story requires plenty of physical comedy. This does not mean it relies exclusively on sight gags, however. The film is very witty and also includes some clever wordplay. It is good to see a movie with such an outrageous premise be unafraid to go all in with its comedy.
A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is more than just an eye catching title. The movie has a wonderfully strange premise that will interest viewers. The quasi coming of age road trip setting is very unique. It is the perfect setting for the story it is telling. Some great comedy and commanding performances makes this well worth your time.