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The Craigslist Killer January 24, 2011

Posted by H$ in 13-16, H$, the craigslist killer.

In "The Etsy Strangler", Zooey Deschanel plays Sabrosa Manchego, a woman whose obsession with handmade luna pads drives her...to murder.

So, first off, I want to be real with you guys: this movie wasn’t that good. I know we all had high hopes, and there was a lot of potential here, but it just didn’t deliver. To be perfectly frank, if you all weren’t so interested in hearing about it, I would have turned it off halfway through in favor of an Iron Chef rerun. The Craigslist Killer is just a paint-by-numbers true crime drama that happens to seem  more interesting then it is because it has the name of a website in it. Observe: “The Etsy Strangler”.

See? You’d watch it!

Let’s stop talking about what could have been and focus on what we’ve got. The Craigslist Killer is the incredibly fictionalized story of Philip Markoff, a spoiled little sociopath who got off on terrorizing sex workers he picked up via Craigslist. The  movie begins with Phil hanging out outside of Fancy Medical School University with a friend, who has some questions about how to locate something on the human body. Philip obligingly illustrates a little circulatory system on a passing lady. He treats objects like women, man!

Turns out that Philip is the hot new god of the med school, and he has his pick of the mortal ladies that surround him. He sets his sights on Megan McAllister, an all-american sweetheart with rich folks and a brain that is apparently made of packing foam.  She knows nothing about him, but that doesn’t stop her from agreeing to marry him about a week after they meet. This never-questioning-her-fiancee thing may come back and bite her in the ass later. In the meantime, the wedding preparations begin!

While Megan is daydreaming about weddings, Philips dreams are a little darker and more brutalizing-women-centric.  Philip’s hobby is finding cute “masseues” on Craigslist who he ties up and threatens at knifepoint.  You know, my problem with Philip isn’t the creepy domination fetish or even the prostitution. Human sexuality is weird, and it’s sort of pointless to get pissed at people from getting off on weird things. What sucks about this guy is that he’s on Craigslist, in the exact section of Craigslist where you could probably find a woman who would happily consent to acting out a weird fetish for a couple hundred bucks. But Philip doesn’t get any joy from consensual sex, so his fantasies have to be acted out on women he’s comfortable using as objects. Philip is a creepy misogynist douche, and while the movie seems to agree he’s reprehensible, it also spends a little too much time objectifying the women he assaults to not be creepy as well. Every one of his victims is a cute girl in slutty clothes, and they also spend a lot of time gasping and writhing around on the ground with their boobs pointed at the camera.  If you’re going to make a movie about a reprehensible dickbag who objectifies and assaults women, maybe objectifying them mid-assault isn’t a good way to make your point. This movie was like a Brian DePalma joint.

The movie also has an incredible issue with tonal shifts. One person who requested this film noted that the twee indy soundtrack didn’t make a great backdrop for the murder preparation montage, and I have to agree. For every 5 minutes of murder, we have 10 of cutesy banter between the couple. Is this movie supposed to be funny? Ironic? You tell me.

Megan is blissfully unaware of her fiance’s double life, and the movie spends a lot of time comparing and contrasting her escalating wedding preparations with his escalating murder preparations. She’s on a whirlwind tour of poofy dresses and fancy cakes, and he’s on a whirlwind tour of gun shops and hardware stores. It helps that Megan is the fucking queen of not noticing stuff. Your fiancee hides a lot of stuff under the bed? Eh, why look at it. Your fiancee comes home late every night with no explanation? So what?. Phil doesn’t pay the rent for 3 months? Everyone makes mistakes, especially busy doctors. Dude comes home smeared with blood and provides an explanation that a 5 year old would question? Whatevs, it’s bed time. Get off Megan’s back already.

"Yes, I'm a Baldwin. No, not the 30 Rock one. Not the Jesus freak, either. I was in Flatliners? Backdraft? A couple of episodes of Gossip Girl?...you know what, forget it."

While Megan sucks at noticing stuff, the Billy Baldwin does not. When Philip slips up and finally kills one of the women he’s been waving a gun at, Billy the Wonder Cop is on the case! And by “on the case”, I mean he spends a lot of time muttering and pawing at his awful laquered hairdo. I know he has a bald spot, but that’s no excuse. Have some dignity, Billy. Anyway, the cops have a blurry photo, but the leads are cold by the time they piece the crimes together.  The case is at a standstill until- and I am not kidding here -they find Philip on Facebook. Philip’s unlocked profile provides all of the information needed to tie him to the crimes, which is incredibly convenient to say the least. But whatever, let’s roll with that. Facebook fills Billy with muttery dismay.  “467 friends. Who the hell needs 467 friends?” Good question, Billy. Good thing you’re so comfortable with yourself and your life decisions that you would never do anything desperate to generate interest in yourself and your fading career, like be in a sensationalistic TV movie. Ahem.

A blurry photograph and a print-out of a facebook profile is all that you need to justify a full-scale police surveillance of an apartment building. Take  note, internet perverts! Philip notices the tightening noose of unmarked state cars and convinces Megan to go on an impromptu couples weekend, preferably in another country. The cops pull him over and nail his ass, of course. Hey genius: if you think the police are after you, maybe don’t load your car up with suitcases in front of them and speed off towards the highway.

With Philip in custody and the state building a case against him, it’s time for Megan to come to terms with her monstrous fiance. The cops raid the house and find a bunch of murder paraphenalia, but she isn’t buying it. Her parents try to help her understand that Philip isn’t coming back from the chokey, but she isn’t listening. She’s not ready to face the music, so it’s time for some tough love from Officer Billy. In one of the best scenes in any Lifetime movie ever, Billy reads Phil’s online profile to her in an effort to get some corroborating evidence:

Billy: “It says he was born in 1987-“

Megan: “LIARS!”

Billy: “Blonde, athletic-“


Billy: “8 inches, uncut-“


Yes, that’s right. The gun under the bed, the blood on his shirt, the underwear he stole as trophies from his victims- none of that is enough to convince her. The accurate dick sizing, however, is too much to ignore. When you find out that Megan was getting ready to marry a hot doctor with a huge wang, her forgiving nature makes a lot more sense.

We’re 15 minutes from the end, so here’s a quick rundown of the conclusion: Megan visits Philip in jail and informs him that she don’t want no scrubs, and drops their engagement ring off in the waiting room. Megan, that was a huge rock, and you are going to have crazy legal fees to deal with shortly. Pawn that shit! Anyway, Philip kills himself in jail while staring at a photo of Megan. The movie ends with a dreamy soft-focus scene where they discuss their bright future and general lovey-doviness while things fade to black.  I guess we’re supposed to feel bad for the future they lost, or something? I’m pretty sure he brutalized those prostitutes on his own initiative, so it’s hard to feel too sorrowful on his behalf.


Delete? Female sign? Oh. I get it.

Awesomeness: 5

This movie had much higher production values then your standard Lifetime  movie. It was relatively well-written, and except for Baldwin had a pretty decent cast. Unfortunately, raising the production values is a good way to take a movie from entertainingly cheesy to pretty-but-boring. This movie erred strongly towards the latter. 5 is the bare minimum for “not good but still functioned as a film”. Its like an IKEA futon f a film.

Star Power: 5

Eh. 5 for Baldwin. He’s not THE Baldwin,  but he’s A Baldwin, so I guess that counts for something.

Lifetimeliness: 3

The emphasis on Megan’s point of view aside, this was just a true crime movie. It could have been on any network. There weren’t even any tough lady cops. 3 points, and only because LMN made the movie to begin with.

13 for The Craigslist Killer. I know. I was hopeful, too. If you still want to watch it, it’s streaming on the LMN site, so feel free.


1. Rusty - January 24, 2011

This movie is also a reminder that anyone wearing a Red Sox hat is trying to kill you.

2. Rusty - January 24, 2011

Also, the bad guy was eight inches cut. Someone with unmutilated genitals would never lash out like this.

3. Mike - January 24, 2011

I’d watch the Etsy Strangler for the chilling montage where she knits her garrote out of Fair Trade Yarn.

Good review of a terrible movie.

4. Daniel - January 24, 2011

“When you find out that Megan was getting ready to marry a hot doctor with a huge wang, her forgiving nature makes a lot more sense.” <– Made me el oh el for reals.

5. hrh king friday xiii, ret. - January 25, 2011

Did he at least specify “no fatties” in his craiglist post?

6. H$ - January 25, 2011

He responded to other ads, so no fatty preference was stated. Luckily, he was a creepy dick in many other exciting ways!

7. Norman Greene - January 25, 2011

There was something really subversive about the copey girlfriend shopping for dresses as he shops for duct tape, zip cuffs, guns. Billy Baldwin doing a fake Boston accent chasing the kid from “Greek?” “8 inches cut?” and then she vomits? That’s high-quality cheese!

8. H$ - January 25, 2011

I have to admit, we got a lot of laughs from Billy’s stupid fake accent. I spent the second half of the movie saying “GUTTAH” in between sips of beer. It’s fun!

Norman Greene - January 25, 2011

Billy also seemed to comb his hair with motor oil and looked like a slovenly hobo the entire movie.

H$ - January 25, 2011

I know. Jesus fuck he looked awful. He looked like a bird that had been fished out of an oil spill. I can’t take good screencaps on this computer, and that was the best photo I could find of it, but he really looked like a fucking mess.

Norman Greene - January 25, 2011

He looked like they rolled him in feces and tequila before every take.

H$ - January 26, 2011

I’m pretty sure he did that himself.

9. Norman Greene - January 25, 2011

I just saw an ad for “Taken from Me: The Tiffany Rubin Story.” Taraji Henson’s son is kidnapped by the guy who played Locke from LOST!

H$ - January 25, 2011

Streaming on LMN next week! Done. (Future-tense.)

10. Norman Greene - January 25, 2011


11. Rhia - January 27, 2011

The Etsy Strangler is eventually caught because hand-knit fingerless gloves don’t actually keep you from leaving fingerprints.

Thanks for taking the bullet on this one.

H$ - January 27, 2011

Rhia, this is for you dog:

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