Netflix Dark R-Rated Comedy Makes You Root For A Serial Killer

By Brian Myers | Published

serial mom

 It’s not often that a slasher film has fans rooting for the killer. But the 1994 John Waters entry Serial Mom makes its murderous matriarch one of the most rooted protagonists in the history of on-screen killers. The zany black comedy has recently been rediscovered by a new generation of fans as it streams on Netflix.

Serial Mom

serial mom

Serial Mom is the story of the Sutphin family, a seemingly normal middle class family living in the Baltimore suburb of Townson, Maryland. But one member of the family is harboring a dark secret.

On the outset, Beverly Sutphin (Kathleen Turner) is the typical housewife. The sinister reality is that Beverly is secretly killing those who dare cross her.

Brilliant Satire

serial mom

But Beverly isn’t dispatching people without cause. Rather, she is carefully selecting her prey based on foibles that (in her mind) make them unworthy of life.

As Serial Mom unfolds, Beverly uses a variety of methods to eliminate people for offenses that include criticizing her children, standing her daughter up for a date, and taking advantage of her husband’s dentistry.

As her children (played by Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard) and husband discover Beverly’s secret, it’s also revealed that the police are closing in.

Serial Mom goes from being a satirical film that gives audiences the satisfaction of seeing people being murdered for lack of self-awareness to one that begins to mock media sensationalism and the criminal justice system.

Pure Waters

Most viewers will cheer Beverly on as she uses a fireplace poker, a leg of lamb, a pair of scissors, and other instruments of destruction to eliminate the objects of her irritations one by one.

It’s John Waters in true form, delivering the level of absurdity, hilarity, and outrageousness his fans have come to expect with this legendary filmmaker.

The Cast

Serial Mom sets up Kathleen Turner in one of her most incredible performances, allowing her to showcase unbelievable comedic timing in a role that makes audiences root for her every on-screen kill.

Waterson, in his pre-Law and Order film career, plays the aloof husband role to perfection and his excellent opposite his on-screen spouse. Glimpses of young Ricki Lake and Matthew Lillard also give viewers a solid look at the talent these two stars in the making were capable of delivering.

Aside from stars Turner and Waterson, Serial Mom brings audiences memorable performances from multiple celebrity cameos.

Suzanne Somers, Joan Rivers, and Bess Armstrong help round out the cast of John Waters regulars that include Mink Stole, May Vivian Pearce, and Traci Lords. Fans of 1990s alternative rock will also discover that the film’s band, Camel Lips, was none other than L7.

Stream It Now


Without any spoilers, one production note of interest is the film’s ending. The studio brass were dissatisfied with the level of violence Waters put into the movie and pushed hard for numerous cuts and a radically different ending. Waters stood his ground, however, a move that likely made Serial Mom one of the acclaimed cult director’s best films.

You can stream Serial Mom on Netflix.