(Almost) American Psycho, Almost (Funny): A Review of “You’re Killing Me”

A 2015 NOLA Horror Film Festival Selection

By its climax, You’re Killing Me has reached and fallen off from peak tedium and contrivance. As is often with very independent film, it tries too hard to accomplish many things. Many genres. Many tones. Up until this point, all had felt forced, being under and sometimes over written. A reliance on camped up screwball humor conversation gets undercut by unsubtle atmospheric transitions to art house horror imagery and feeling.

It’s a trial to watch the opening two thirds.

Trudging through to the end, a lovely twist — curveball — occurs. It is in this climatic turn that we are rewarded with a pay off worthy of much applause. What would’ve happened if The Prestige was the slow revelation of a punch line? A long joke that could only be understood and accepted from sitting through to the end.

It’s smarter than it initially lets on.

The premise of You’re Killing Me is, from the get go, a bold move. It’s the romance between two young men; an aspiring youtube star and an aspiring serial killer. Yes, it really is presented as relaxed as you think. We are introduced to both in separate, side by side scenes, involving them dealing with their aspirations in one way or another. In a way, you could contrast their “occupations” and see both as committing murder — one of people, the other of comedy and entertainment.

To be fair, they are both up and comers…

The two meet through a stalking incident turned date invitation, and form a bond from there. The wannabe web comedian is tragically camp and hopelessly Hollywood. The wannabe killer is stereotypically lonely and stiffly uncommunicative. It’s a match made in wacky heaven, right? Not so much.

If we didn’t already know who the killer was, and the movie was a whodunnit of sorts, it would be painfully obvious to anyone with a brain that doesn’t skew towards vapidness, just who is committing all the slashings. This is the joke of the film — that the internet hero thinks his new boyfriend is just eccentric and cutely kidding when he states his crimes, which he does every chance he gets.

At one point, having just stabbed a couple to death over jealousy, we get a surprisingly tender phone call made from murderer to comedian. Its explained why he did what he just did, and that he loves feeling these emotions. When You’re Killing Me is juxtaposing romantic comedy tropes with horror sequences, it’s perfect. When it’s taking time with mostly unlikable people, talking endlessly about themselves and pop culture, its depressing.

At the climax, when the paradigm shifting twist happens, it’s revealed that the story has, itself, been one long comedy bit, and THIS is the moment where the audience is to laugh. To FINALLY laugh. And it’s a GOOD LAUGH, too. But it’s like a rug being pulled out from under you, and bumping your head on a table before landing. Yes, we get it. Yes, it’s funny. No, it could’ve been better told.

Like its lovestruck leads, You’re Killing Me suffers from being too green and too amateurish at what it wants to accomplish. It makes it to the finish line, but wins a bronze. Still, hardly anybody kills it their first year doing standup. Keep getting up and in front, I say.

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Independent film critic. Progressive po’ boy, moviegoing romantic. SEFCA member, 🍅 - approved. Newsletter at ofthosewho.substack.com

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