POPCORN AND GLITTER

A film, food, travel & lifestyle blog by Sophie Elizabeth

10 April 2019

Film Review: A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life (Staten Cousins-Roe, 2019) ★★½

(Image courtesy of the British Film Council)

Thirty-something Lou Farnt (Katie Brayben), is a self-help addict floating through life in the stale seaside town in which she grew up. Controlled by her overbearing mother and stuck in a dead-end corner shop job, Lou wants nothing more than to escape. Lou’s life is transformed when she encounters a strikingly confident life coach, Val (Poppy Roe) and agrees to embark on a road trip of self discovery. However, things quickly take a dark turn when Val reveals herself to be a serial killer. 

(Image courtesy of the British Film Council)

We’ve all seen those online ads promising to make us thin, herbal teas they’ll make us healthier or those vitamins ‘guaranteed’ to give you a better life. And this film hits all that nonsense over the head with a rolling-pin – quite literally. A female-led satirical horror, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life was originally a kick-starter film which sets itself against the back-drop of the lucrative self-help obsessed world. With some scenes of utter ridiculousness and amusement, it pokes fun at those of us who are seduced into consuming hopes of a better existence through bizarre methods. 

Opening to Louise (Brayben) with a self-help guide playing in her earphones, the film is divided into seven chapters of Chuck Knoah’s (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) book – a famous American self-help guru whom Lou has bought in to. Still living in her childhood home, we see Lou’s unstable mother who relies on her for her every need. But when at a self-help seminar, Lou is taken aside by a self-assured life coach, Val (Roe), who tells her she’s looking for help in the wrong places. Before long, Lou unwittingly finds herself on a killing spree across the south-coast of England’s most ‘alternative’ therapies, kickstarting media frenzy. 

(Image courtesy of the British Film Council)

As Staten Cousins-Roe’s first feature length film, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is certainly a little rough around the edges but does feature some quite funny moments. It’s originality is questionable though, as the film has some remarkable similarities to that of Sightseers (Ben Wheatley, 2012); which also follows a woman (Alice Lowe) keen to escape her domineering mother and by taking a caravan holiday with her new boyfriend – only to discover he’s a murderer. Unlike Sightseers though, A Serial Killer’s Guide does not offer the same levels of gore or violence - nor is it laugh-out-loud funny. So whilst it builds to a climactic finish, it does appear to fall a little short. 

(Image courtesy of the British Film Council)

There are moments where you may find yourself inventing possible outcomes although the real one is much less exciting. The film does, however, feature some wonderful performances, particularly from Brayben as a timid Louise. As an audience, you root for her to just pick up a bat and give someone a good beating over the head. Also notable is the cinematography which keeps this unhinged comedy somewhat of a visual delight and the film’s real selling point. 

Ultimately, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is easy viewing for a horror fan and arguably leaves a little to be desired. However, if you’re a lover of FrightFest horrors looking for some titters here and there, and some style to your horror, this is certainly an entertaining one for you. 

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Well, that's it for another FrightFest film review but tell me, are you excited to see A Serial Killer's Guide to Life? What makes a horror film great for you? As always, I love reading your thoughts so please do leave your comments below. 

Until next time horror fans,


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