Directed by Stuart Stone and co-written with fellow lead actor Adam Rodness, in search of their next hit series, two filmmakers embark on an investigation to find a man they believe to be a serial killer. Are they in over their heads? Yes. Also starring: Josh Cruddas, Bill MacDonald and Tony Nappo.
If you’re into true crime, parody, mockumentary and films around the 90-minute mark then you’ve probably hit the jackpot with this film. The tone that the filmmaking strikes is one that’s utterly aware of how outlandish and ridiculous this whole adventure is. You could potentially describe the style as a less intense, slightly silly cousin to Patrick Brice’s Creep. It has a great pace and energy to it, it’s constantly on the move, never slows down even when the story starts to peter out, the style keeps going. It’s very classic of that mockumentary style with quick edits and always trying to get an extra angle or one that’s tantalisingly obscured. The whole tone is quite charismatic, even if you don’t necessarily gel with the characters, there’s still a charm to how the film is put together.
Stone and Rodness bring to the table what you can hopefully assume are exaggerated versions of their personalities, temperaments and priorities. The characters play on some of the typical cliches of filmmaking: an over confidence, a poor handle on the sudden influx of money, a not quite fleshed out enough idea and a chilling dedication to prove their point. Their acting is surprisingly convincing considering that more aware, playful tone the film’s atmosphere builds, it doesn’t bleed into their performances, allowing them to still come across as sincerely invested in this ridiculous adventure. The two of them have a great chemistry, especially in its more negative moments, the constant backhanded or even obvious jibes and digs at one another are fun to watch. They do also manage to get across that underneath the resentment and passing of blame back and forth, they are still a team.
The writing is perhaps the most interesting element because it takes not necessarily a surprising path but also potentially not quite exactly what you might want to get out of it. For the most part it all moves smoothly, it’s funny and a little awkward, it’s also extremely easy to watch but when it enters its final stages, things get more messy, quite literally. The choices that it makes for its finale are somewhat difficult to accept as a natural progression, you may question whether it feels like the decisions truly match what we know of the characters or whether it’s jumping in too deep. It blunts the impact of its ending, creating something that’s less sharp, it’s still a nicely clever way to wrap things up but it takes steps to up the intensity then doesn’t pay out. It would have been great to see them finish with a bang, really embrace the darkness it steps into and just punch you in the face with it but it stays true to its comedy origins instead. It’s maybe expecting too much for them to take such a risk but the opportunity was ripe.
Faking a Murderer is charismatic, funny and an easy, entertaining watch perfect for a lazy evening with friends and a few beers. It has a great balance of building a tone and atmosphere through the style that’s self-aware of its outlandish nature, while the acting is still convincing in their sincerity and motivation. The story moves well, it’s based in comedy but still holds that edge of suspense in the background because even in parody, the obsession with true crime means we need to know the truth and if he is a killer. As with many a film that has come before it, the only real issue is the ending, it’s crying out for something more sinister and darkly twisted but it leans more towards its comedy roots and while it is good, it lacks a punch.