How to Be a Serial Killer (2008) Poster

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Great Darkumentary
gnatdog16 November 2008
When my buddies asked me to check out the Horror Film Festival this weekend, I did not suspect to view such a modern twist on the traditional "horror" genre. Rather than drinking in the normally comedic levels of blood and gore, this film let the audience laugh with it. Interestingly, it was at its least gory at the most cinematic points, whether it was the entertaining relationship between Mike and Bart, or the conjured fantasies of the former. The acting of both Dameon Clarke and Matthew Gray Gubler were refreshingly believable, given the set up. I call this a darkumentary because that it takes on the form of a crew following around a spontaneous (not quite serial) killer, Mike, and his apprentice/pupil/friend/video store employee, Bart. As with other "mockumentaries," this creation has a tongue-in-cheek tone throughout. Nonetheless, its humor surpasses what has become banal in horror films of a more traditional ilk. I haven't a strong background when it comes to Horror, and was bashful of my lack thereof while at this horror festival, but I recognized this movie as a new breed of horror. I laughed at the sheer inhumanity because the movie was at that level; I did not laugh when Mike questioned Bart's loyalty, nor when Bart hypothesized worst-case scenarios of getting found out. In fact, the characters in this horror might be its most distinguishing element. Most horror films, even Army of Darkness, are carried by a single lead role. In "How to be a Serial Killer," we follow the progression of 2 men, albeit one in the shadow of the other. Thanks to its documentary side scenes, we get a chance to separate the fourth wall in a genre that is rarely looked at as being multi-dimensional. The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. Funny, well written, impeccable blood and gore, and more thought provoking than I had initially felt. I'll say it here, I think this movie could shed new light on what horror is really all about. Apparently Matthew Gray Gubler has somewhat of a following, and I agree that both leading actors are deserving of future roles.
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A "Cult Classic" to be
MCtoB30 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was a delightful surprise. I bought the DVD after hearing about it on line. Since I got it I have watched it at least 10 times, and each time I do I laugh out loud and notice some little thing that I missed the last time I watched.

I was already a fan of Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds. He did not disappoint. His portrayal of Bart was perfect.

I had never heard of Dameon Clarke, but after seeing this film I am a fan and I am checking out his other work. He did an excellent job, and he very much deserved the award as best actor he received from the NYC Horror Film Festival. Laura Regan was adorable as Abigail.

I love dark comedy, and this one did it just right. I never get tired of Mike Wilson's (Clarke) enthusiasm for his "craft", such as when he demonstrates all the different and creative ways to kill. I had to cheer him on as he did in the jerk at the video store and the creep who was abusing his dog, just to name a few. I never thought I could find murder so funny.

Then in the midst of all this dark humor, there were actually some scenes that turned out to be very poignant. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride, and I like that in a movie.

People who don't get this movie and find it funny - well, I would have to guess that they don't have much of a sense of humor. I loved it - so shoot me...
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Darkly funny mockumentary
Donatien311 November 2012
Everyone – at some point - has had fantasies about killing. 'How to Be a Serial Killer' takes that concept and turns into a dark comedy- mockumentary.

Mike Wilson (Dameon Clarke) is a charming man with a loving girlfriend Abigail (Lauren Regan), who is a serial killer on the side. Believing that he's doing good and taking charge of his life, Mike takes Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler), a bored video store worker, under his wing and teaches him the rules of serial killing. This story is framed by documentary-style direct-to-camera addresses by the characters and a motivational seminar – hosted by Mike – on how to become a serial killer.

While this territory has recently been covered by the 'Dexter' TV series and novels, HTBASK has a real dark comic feel: taking the dark fantasies we all have and putting them into action. It doesn't try to glamorise serial killers, instead showing the natural consequences of choosing that lifestyle.For all his charm, Mike comes off as delusional in believing his way is correct. The cut scenes involving Mike's suave seminar presentation acts as a satire of the slick self-help speaker. The one who can manipulate the audience into believing whatever he wants them to. He does this with Bart, and gradually earns his trust.

Overall, HTBASK is a darkly funny look at the reality of being a serial killer seen through the eyes of a criminal.
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Ladies and gentlemen, better your life through serial murder!
Hey_Sweden14 March 2014
For the most part, "How to Be a Serial Killer" is a sharp, charming, and very funny combination of satire and dark comedy. It's so engagingly performed that one is willing to go along for the ride. Granted, towards the end it actually starts to become more conventional and predictable, but getting there is still a good deal of fun. It never gets that gory, so the less squeamish in the audience shouldn't be squirming too much. What's great about it is how completely our lead character believes in himself and his methodology; the movie is at its brightest when it's making fun of the business of motivational speaking and our merry murderer is offering all manner of lessons in the fine art of serial killing. The filmmaking is overall fairly slick and the kills are done in a rather stylized way.

The movie is a solid vehicle for prolific working actor Dameon Clarke, who's done a great deal of voice-over work for video games. He delivers a charismatic, confident performance as Mike Wilson, who wishes to impart his wisdom to a young apprentice, whom he's decided will be meek video store employee Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler of 'Criminal Minds'). Mike teaches Bart everything that he knows, from victim selection to body disposal - not to mention trying to keep a loved one, in this case Mikes' girlfriend Abigail (Laura Regan, "Dead Silence") - in the dark for as long as possible. Their scenes are intercut with those of a psychologist, Dr. Goldberg (veteran comedy character actor George Wyner of "Spaceballs") educating us on the nature of serial murderers.

This is spirited, high-energy entertainment with a rather profound wrap-up, which shows that there is more going on here than just the comedy quotient. Clarke and the likable Gubler work well together and the story has enough pacing and cleverness going for it to make it worth recommending to others.

Eight out of 10.
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Black Comedy With Serious Message
Lechuguilla7 December 2011
Offbeat and mostly satirical, this film gets off to a great start and ends with a bang. But the script has a somewhat weak middle section. With gusto, and dressed mostly in black, cocky motivational speaker Mike Wilson (Dameon Clarke) appears on a dark stage and presents us with his "ten easy lessons" on how to get more out of life by being a serial killer.

A narrator begins the TV infomercial. "Is it hard for you to get up in the morning? ... Well don't despair, because Mike Wilson can help you. Mike's unique formula has helped millions of people ... Since becoming a serial killer, Mike has achieved a level of success ... he never thought possible. And now he's going to share his secrets with you in this amazing life-changing seminar". Marvelous.

The plot alternates between Mike's on-stage lessons and his field experience mentoring a young nerdy-looking video store clerk, Bart (Matthew Gubler). Together, as buddies, they excise a number of people whom they take a disliking to. Trouble is, their victims don't really deserve their fate. I would have preferred people who really measured up: a Wall Street swindler, some crooked politician, a rapist, a CEO whose company products hurt innocent people, for example.

At various points in the plot, a psychiatrist, who talks directly to viewers, imparts some legit background information on serial killers. Which contrasts nicely with Mike's false "perception is reality" creed.

I like this film less for its comedy (though the beginning is funny) than for its originality and thematic depth. Clarke and Gubler are well cast; and their performances are fine. A digital, high-definition camcorder captures the visuals; and with characters occasionally breaking the fourth wall, the film conveys a documentary look and feel.

Most of the film is satirical and meant as black comedy. But in the final few minutes the film turns serious, as it communicates a profound sense of fatalism, by way of an amazingly potent rendition of an old gospel hymn and the stark visuals of a man entrapped by delusion.
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Almost....but not quite
sagans_moon21 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Two solid lead actors with great off-beat chemistry are really wasted here.

This film was far from boring, but it sadly fell short of it's potential due to a timid, aimless script that failed to push the boundaries far enough. By that, I don't mean adding blood and guts galore, but making the humour a bit more 'oh-that's-just-wrong' daring and perhaps having something to say about societal desensitization or serial killer groupies which may have given the film a bit of focus and a bit more oomph.

The set up and structure of the film were good, but the victims weren't vile enough to keep the viewer on the killers side (quite the reverse in a couple of cases) and the script lacked any real wit. Add to this a fairly cheesy musical score and some dodgy sound editing and the end result was just all a tad *meh*.

All in all, the points this film scores are for the performances of the two leads, particularly Matthew Gray Gubler who plays the needy, uncertain apprentice to perfection. These chaps need to be on our screens more - they are quality performers.

This film was OK. Just don't expect anything cutting edge.
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well made but just misses its mark
Rob-O-Cop13 October 2009
I can't say I wanted to like this as we're too full of dark humor glorify brutality themed movies, and even if this was tongue in cheek and self aware black humor, it just wasn't reverential enough to make it shine. The end result was kinda nothing. which is weird cos the lead 2 guys were good, they played well, but it just was missing the it factor, maybe it was script or direction, but no, this wasn't worth the time to watch it. maybe we've had too many of these clever dark and uncomfortable movies and unless you're pushing the boundaries and shocking then there's not much point in your entry. this wasn't boundary pushing or shocking hence it failed.
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Ted Bundy Infomercial
billcr1218 June 2012
The best black comedies, such as Fargo or Dr. Strangelove have the genius of the Coen brothers or Stanley Kubrick behind them. How to Be a Serial Killer is an interesting concept which never really develops into anything memorable. Written and directed by Luke Ricci, a man who will never be in the same company as the aforementioned directors of the past(Kubrick) or present(Coens).

Mike Wilson is a combination of the articulate and charismatic Ted Bundy, and the fictional Dexter from the Showtime series. Mike is on an infomercial, promoting the killing of annoying people. He takes on a student, Bart, and instructs him on how to dispose of corpses and the many different and creative ways of committing murder. The result is a mildly amusing comedy, which sort of breezes along and is at the level of a made for TV movie.
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I think I Laughed Once
ikrani1 August 2014
I don't even remember when I laughed. That is not a good sign when the good jokes aren't even memorable.

Now, understand that I have nothing against this movie's premise. A comedy about a serial killer could've worked, as could a movie analyzing a serial killer's delusion about himself and what he does. However, this movie tries to be both. As such, it was impossible for me to take the serious bits seriously due to the attempts at comedy and the comedic bits aren't exaggerated enough for me NOT to take them seriously. If you want to be comedic, be comedic. If you want to be serious, be serious. Don't try to meet halfway. The only point where I started taking the film completely seriously was at the end during the climax, and even then I didn't like what I was seeing.

While I held high hopes for this movie at the beginning thanks to its title, those hopes were quickly dashed when we were introduced to our resident serial killer, Mike. Now, nothing against the actor, but in a comedy with as dark a subject matter as this, there is no place for people. And that's my main problem with Mike: the film tries too hard to portray him as a normal person while forgetting that comedy comes from the abnormal, the twisted, and the weird. Mike wasn't any of those things. He was just "normal", and as such, the movie's attempts to portray his character comically fall flat. Then again, maybe I was supposed to take them seriously, but because of the unclear tone the movie had I was unsure whether I was supposed to laugh or be horrified. Most of the time I was horrified.

Despite that, while I might not have liked this movie, I let it keep two additional stars on the merit of its premise and the fact that while the problems in this movie are big ones, they're hardly rage-inducing.

And please, if you're going to make a movie about a serial killer, go full-bore. Don't try to meet the two ends of the spectrum halfway.
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It sucks ! and not in a good way!
mikejo28-124 October 2009
This "movie" took me 2 hours closer to death, but unfortunately didn't finish the job. It got off to a slow start, and was predictable and tedious all the way through. I am a Ted Bundy and Manson girls fan, and was up for this, but any 10 yr old could've written a better screenplay. The actors are likable enough, but they didn't push the premise anywhere near far enough to be funny. It was just sad. I was waiting for some great victims who everyone loves to hate, to get whacked -- clones of Richard Simmons, Bernie Madoff, Rush Limbaugh, the energizer bunny, you name em, but they never showed up. Worst movie I've sat thru for about 20 years, and I have seen them all. Yow! It gets a 2 only for having decent actors. If they ever render you to Gitmo, for having an opinion or some other thought-crime, and show you this movie, GOUGE OUT YOUR EYES with the MacDonalds spork !!!!!!
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