This brightly lit movie is devoid of emotion or atmosphere making for an excruciatingly slow and boring ride through the mind of (kind of) a mad man. His illness is unexplained and why he gets into crazy mode is poorly motivated. Most of it seems it be because of his childhood and parents, but this movie chooses not to explore or explain it. There’s no suspense, mainly because this movie, while unrated, would have little problem getting a PG rating. It’s no wonder this played on cable television’s Lifetime channel. We rarely see Philip interact with the girls and the opening act plays as if the filmmakers don’t want to clue us into what he’s capable of. Instead they are happy with Detective Bennet telling it in the end. A classic case for show don’t tell being a bad rule to break.
The story is split into three perfectly timed thirty minute arcs. The first half an hour is literally a guy sneaking around on Craigslist and cheating on his fiancee. The second act is him actually robbing and accidentally killing. Philip is one of the stupidest criminals. He somehow gives away a clear shot of his face to security cameras, even though he wears hats. He helps an old lady into an elevator after one of the crimes. When he shops at a hardware store he buys only supplies that a serial killer would purchase, including disposable cell phones (this is all strange since he never really uses anything except a 9mm hand gun and some plastic ties). The trail he leaves could be found by a blind detective. Which is where William Baldwin enters the picture. Anyone who’s seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall will have a hard time not thinking of Baldwin’s one-liners on the fake police procedural show featured in that film. “It’s going to be hard for her to reenter the pageant… without a face. — He was either stabbed in the aorta or it was his time of the month.” The second act mostly consists of Philip looking at Craigslists ads while Megan runs around preparing for the wedding and Detective Bennett wanders around crime scenes.
The third act is where the real movie lies. The performances step up (especially Agnes Bruckner and William Baldwin) as Megan must face the fact that Philip is not he man she thought he was. While the story starts to get interesting we’re betrayed when Philip and the filmmakers take the easy way out (OK, so I ruined it a little, but believe me, it was in shambles before I got to it). Don’t expect any sort of exploration of characters here, this is an open and shut case of uninspired work. Flat characters, subdued performances, wooden dialogue, stand-offish direction and nonexistent cinematography mark The Craigslist Killer as 2011’s most boring hour and a half. Some true stories should be embellished. Don’t rent this unless you’d consider yourself a demographic of Lifetime.
Director: Stephen Kay
Stars: Jake McDorman, Agnes Bruckner, William Baldwin