14th Jan2020

‘A Serial Kiler’s Guide To Life’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Katie Brayben, Poppy Roe, Sian Clifford, Fiona Glascott, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Sinead Matthews, Tomiwa Edun, David Newman | Written and Directed by Staten Cousins Roe

[NOTE: With the film now out on deman, here's a reposting of our review of A Serial Kiler’s Guide To Life, from the films screening at last years London Frightfest]

ASKGTL_1sht_Poster

British comedy horror has taken many forms. From the Abominable Dr. Phibes to Shaun of the Dead to The Cottage. All very different but all equally funny and A Serial Killer’s Guide To Life is another unique horror comedy that feels at home with a lot of recent films and shows from the U.K.

Lou’s life is going nowhere. Working a minimum wage nothing job and living at home with her mum who she also (kind of) looks after. Looking for some direction in her life she searches for a life coach and happens upon Val. A life coach who is looking to take someone on a self help road trip across England and Lou is desperate enough to hop along for the ride.

I will say straight off that many horror fans might be a little bit disappointed with the amount of ‘horror’ in the movie. By horror I mean any type of ‘scares’ and blood and gore. There’s very little of it. I assume budget restraints were a major reason that we barely get to see any of the vast amount of killings. We see everything leading up to it and the damage that has been done after. I would say this doesn’t really hinder things but it is always good to have a couple of entertaining death scenes.

A Serial Killer’s Guide To Life reminded me of several modern shows and movies. One of my favourite recent dark comedies, Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers was the first thing that came to mind. While I didn’t laugh quite as much, it’s got that same dark humour and has a great use of several British things, mainly that beautiful British countryside. At first you might not connect horror and a fielded landscape but this is not the first time and won’t be the last time they’ve have been used to create or cover-up horrific things. Dead Man’s Shoes, An American Werewolf In London and the aforementioned Sightseers are all good examples.

Creator of Killing Eve and Fleabag, Phoebe Waller-Bridge is probably influencing a lot of movie-makers at the moment and I can see that here. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, maybe it’s the slightly unusual relationship between the two lead women. Or maybe it’s that dark humor that underlies much of the movie. Or maybe it’s because the characters are strangely relatable. There’s definitely something there – it actually even features Fleabag star Sian Clifford – and I think there’ll be plenty more British comedy that has a similar vibe in the future.

Katie Brayben plays Lou- she’s perhaps best known for her role in the show Luther and here she is perfect because she comes across as ‘normal’. Everyone can relate to someone who is just stuck in a rut and wants to get out of it. Because of this scenario, we get a bit of a transformation with the character that is completely believable because of how the whole movie is set-up. It’s a really confident performance from Brayden. The other lead actress is Poppy Roe as Val. Despite her relative inexperience in film, Roe gets the emotionless, straight-faced character of Val spot-on. Her matter-of-factness and style is the perfect Ying to Lou’s Yang and it creates an interesting dynamic between the two.

In his first movie director Staten Cousins Roe has produced something that is completely engrossing and re-watchable. The ending is surprisingly sweet and emotional, A Serial Kiler’s Guide To Life is a very British serial killer movie and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

****  4/5

A Serial Kiler’s Guide To Life is out now on Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video and all other UK, US and Canadian digital platforms courtesy of Arrow Films.

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