How To Be A Serial Killer (2008)
I pick apart horror movies. My husband asked why it had to be horror movies. Well, there's a couple of reasons. One, I figure that comedies are supposed to be stupid, what's the point of making fun of them? And other genres... boring. I like horror. Nothing scares me, I either find it funny or dumb. Thus a perfect vehicle for me to review and pick apart. And a lot of fun, for me.
Some movies try to be like real life and very few make it. Those can get uncomfortable to the viewer, particularly if it's either a real story or based on a real story (unless it's one of those stupid 'based on true events', in those cases you know you can just throw the whole movie out). This makes fun of the uncomfortable, because it is about the mindset (and life) of a dispassionate, clinically psychotic but seemingly normal serial killer.
There's nothing funny about people who kill for the hell of it, maybe that's why having this horror film described as 'black comedy' didn't sit well with me. But I gave it a shot and here's what they presented. A man named Mike Wilson is handsome, charming and lives happily with his girlfriend. He works a typical white collar job but his real passion is killing people. He revels in it, and figures he's doing the world a favor, both by killing those not deserving of life (in his opinion) and making people see 'how precious every day is because it could be their last'. Okay that's going a bit over the line. But bear with me, this actually kind of works.
One night while at a video store, he notices a beat-down clerk named Bart being beat down further by an obnoxious customer. He decides to take on this scruffy guy as an apprentice of sorts, to teach him how to be the perfect serial killer. In his mind (as a pseudo-psychologist makes observations that are as obvious as... duh) he is perfect, kind of like the Tony Robbins of killers, and should have a seminar teaching these tried and true techniques:
- Etiquette Of Serial Killing
- Tools Of The Trade
- Significant Others
- Learn By Doing
- Perseverance And Discipline
- Blending Work And Play
- Shopping For Victims
- Disposing Of Corpses
- Never Kill People You Know
- Facing The Authorities
Bart is somewhat of a reluctant study, but soon starts to see the way Mike does - there are a lot of people worth killing. Or needing killing. Or wanting killing. Whatever both their excuses are, killing is what they do for fun. And yet each night Mike gets to go home to his beautiful girlfriend in his great apartment and live his privileged life. Stay with me now.
There have been intelligent serial killers. There have been ones that were just plain lucky. Some were popular and handsome. Others not so much. One thing all have in common however. They got caught. It might have taken some time, but serial killers get caught.
One night Mike decides to take Bart out for a night of 'teaching' and makes the mistake necessary to knock down his house of cards. He accidentally leaves the keys to his safe on the bed. His girlfriend, too curious about his extracurricular activities looks into the vault and apparently finds out just who she's been living with.
Bart gets a frantic call from Mike. When he gets there, Mike has slaughtered his girlfriend. He's broken one of his own rules. Bart helps him clean up and they carry the body to his car in broad daylight. Of course they're seen - and more rules get broken. Soon Mike has killed the whole apartment building's occupants - he thinks. They take off to the desert, determined to get back on track. Plus, Mike has a shack out there with some emergency supplies, including things to change his appearance, fake ID, and lots of money to start over in Mexico. Bart gets the feeling that he's not going to be in these new plans.
He's right. Mike tells him to tell the police he was held hostage and nothing else. He shoots him in the shoulder, then engages in a shootout with police. Most are killed, one gets lucky and takes him down.
So if you thought they were going to make him out to be a kind of hero, no. He ends up the way serial killers will, sooner or later - he's in jail, sentenced to die and is executed by lethal injection. Bart however decides to continue Mike's 'work' and is seen loading a gun, ready to start his own 'career' of ridding the world of those undeserving of the gift of life. Will he succeed? Maybe for a week or two. He wasn't very bright.