Beverly Sutphin is the perfect all-American housewife. She cooks, cleans and even recycles her garbage. She’s a loving mother of two teenagers and devoted wife to a dentist. But Beverly also has a darker side. She will literally kill to keep her family happy.
Serial Mom is a sharp-edged satire with influences taken from both the slasher genre as well as serial killer movies like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. The movie functions as a commentary on tabloid TV as well as the obsession of the general public with people like Beverly. Just two months after the release of Serial Mom, O.J. Simpson would be arrested kicking off TV-coverage of a trial which resembles events in this movie.
Serial Mom’s premise leans into the domestic thrillers and slashers that were all the rage the years before. Movies like The Stepfather, Mikey and Single White Female. But those were straight up thrillers, whereas Serial Mom is a black comedy with slasher elements in it. To give you an example: Beverly clobbers a woman to death with a roast for not rewinding a video tape.
The star of Serial Mom is Kathleen Turner who carries the movie with ease. She shines in every scene she’s in and her performance alone is worth the price of admission. She is surrounded by a steller cast. Sam Waterston has the most hilarious facial expressions throughout the movie. Their kids are played by Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard. Lillard who would go on to play a serial killer himself in Scream.
The third act is one of the most hilarious segments I’ve seen in a movie. The movie shifts to a court room as Beverly defends herself at her trial. The way she deals with witnesses has me cracking up the whole time. A year later Kevin Smith’s Mallrats would do the same thing with a dating show segment during the final act.
If a movie like Serial Mom was made today, it would have been a straight to streaming affair. Probably Netflix, since they have an obsession with serial killers. The product would probably be a far cry from the fun and zany movie we have now.
Serial Mom is one of those hidden gems that doesn’t get much attention today. In this day and age of YouTube reviewers and movie content channels Serial Mom is hardly mentioned. I’m hoping that one day Red Letter Media, Hack The Movies, Cinemassacre or JoBlo show this movie some love.