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Review by John Delia

Quirky and twisted, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is one movie that will keep you wincing throughout the 81 minutes of mindboggling carnage. Once it gets started the movie becomes a roller coaster ride of death that’s not stopping to look back. It’s a very dark comedy and the actors are excellent at depicting the insanity as it rolls along to a surprise ending. Did I say the film is sadistic? The film is billed as another Thelma and Louise, but those two ladies in that movie were girl scouts compared to Lou and Valerie in A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life.

Twenty something Lou Farnt (Kate Brayben) has been on a slow road to becoming her mother’s permanent caretaker. Trapped with living under mommy’s roof she dreams of a life on her own and freedom from the stranglehold. She listens to self-help inspirational tapes day and night and often goes to seminars and book signing by the best in the business. She especially likes the king of coaches Chuck Knoah (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) and the rising Barry Withnott (David Newman).

Val Stone (Poppy Roe)  in A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life. From Arrow Films

At a Chuck Knoah seminar, Lou runs into Val Stone (Poppy Roe) who wants to become the greatest life coach of all time. Val’s at the seminar looking for someone she can guide to a new life and become like her. At first Lou thinks Val’s just another wannabe, but still takes her card with an offer by Val to stop by and see her. After another night of kowtowing to her mom, the next morning she goes to see Val and is welcomed. Before she leaves she who offers Lou to be her travel companion and introduce her to the most notable self-help groups that can help her start a new life. What Lou doesn’t know is that Val wants to be the only life coach even if she has to kill for it.

Director Staten Cousins Roe started his features career with a 17 minute film called This Way Out (2013), a very dark comedy that was awarded at several film festivals. Taking that one idea and making a full feature starring the same two leads in the short, Kate Brayben and Poppy Roe, he turns up the diabolical killing and calls the movie A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life. Now a feature length film with a the same twisted theme, the two actors get to see how amazing they can be and they knock it out of the park. Nicely produced and directed the movie should be a cult classic someday.

Val Stone (Poppy Roe) and Lou Farnt (Kate Brayben) in A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life. From Arrow Films

Brayben and Roe’s performances, looks and depictions are spot on. I can see both getting offers if enough of America tunes them in via Digital HD and when the film’s released on DVD and Blu-ray. Brayben’s character Lou has the perfect arc of going from bored, innocent and lonely to the other side of the spectrum. She’s a stitch to watch with her dumbfounded look as her new found friend takes charge of her life. When she realizes what she’s got herself into, her “oh well” attitude changes to “why not”. As for Roe’s Val, you know immediately she’s driven by evil forces in her brain. When she starts to show her atrocious side outwardly however, she’s already on a non-stop plan with her student in tow.

Even with the shocking scenes, that at first you may whisper to yourself “are you kidding?” you start to accept the fact that the two women are born psychopaths. But, after all Val’s just proving she’s the best life coach even if it means she has to kill to prove it. The film’s a winner regardless how depraved and the A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is no more psycho than, well the movie Psycho. So if you got a kick out of that film, this one won’t bother you a bit.

Val Stone (Poppy Roe) and Lou Farnt (Kate Brayben) in A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life. From Arrow Films

A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life has not been rated by the MPAA, but contains language, violence, gore, brutality, sexual innuendos, drug use and a lot of other wicked things. It gets very sadistic at times so beware when choosing who you’d like to bring with you to the film. Check your local listings for a theater and movie times in your city.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A tongue-in-cheek funny film that entertains. (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Kate Brayben, Poppy Roe, Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Sian Clifford
Directed and written by: Staten Cousins Roe
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Crime, horror
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 1 hr. 21 min.
Opening Date: January 13, 2020
Distributed by: Arrow Films
Released in: Digital HD

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