Film Review: A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life (2019)

With Katie Brayben in the lead cast and a cameo from Sinéad Matthews, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life has many a visceral treat

“Next stop, inner serenity”

Released digitally earlier this year, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is the kind of spunky indie Brit-flick you’d be more than happy to watch of an evening, without necessarily having deliberately searched it out. The debut long-form feature from writer/director Staten Cousins Roe, it’s the kind of short but sharp black comedy that could well find it building cult status.

Stuck in a dead-end life and living with her over-bearing mother, Lou seeks refuge in listening to various self-help gurus but it isn’t until she attends a seminar and meets the alluring life coach Val IRL that things start to change for her. This journey of self-discovery is not your usual fare though, as Val encourages Lou to take no shit as they scythe their way though the wellness industry that has popped up in the Sussex countryside.

One of the main reasons for picking this film was finding Katie Brayben in one of the starring roles. An Olivier Award-winner for musical Beautiful, she’s powerfully convincing as the meekly awkward Lou and she shares some genius chemistry with Poppy Roe (who I’ve also seen in a musical, albeit a decade ago!) who proves deliciously and creatively unhinged as Val. A dryly comic rapport underpins their crucial relationship and sustains the film throughout.

There’s also a raft of great cameos, including the marvellous Sinéad Matthews and Sian Clifford among others, as the various proponents of alternative therapies – laughter therapy, primal screaming, yoga, rebirthing. And for a low-budget film, it really doesn’t show. Anna Sulley’s sound design and Laurence Love Greed’s compositions really up the creative ante. A gently pleasing film which shows some real promise. 

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