School is back in session and with it comes many new adventures, from the mundane paper-writing to possibly the more adventurous Powerpoint presentations. But I happened to watch a movie for one of my classes within the first week. The movie was Mr. Brooks.

Mr. Brooks is a psychological thriller and the themes related to psychology are obvious (especially since I was watching it for a psychology class). It deals with addiction and the psychology of a serial killer. Also decently obvious are the themes related to religion. But before I go more in depth, here is a plot summary:

Mr. Brooks is a serial killer who has gone straight for two years when Marshall, a man only he can see, finally convinces him to get back to killing. When he kills a couple, he does it sloppily enough that a somewhat sociopathic witness blackmails him into allowing him to come with him the next time he kills. There are a couple of plot twists that I am not going to spoil.

The movie has to do with the nature of addiction. Rather than portraying the serial killer as someone who simply doesn’t have the ability to feel remorse or sympathy, like we imagine most serial killers, he is someone who is addicted to the rush of adrenaline and dopamine that he gets when he takes someone’s life. He even goes to group therapy for his addiction, though he does not tell everyone what he is addicted to, for obvious reasons.

Marshall acts as the “devil on his shoulder,” being the usual voice of the dark part of his mind. And, for the beginning part of the movie, Brooks prays the Serenity Prayer, attempting to drown out Marshall’s voice. This does not work, though, because otherwise there would be no movie. Though Brooks wants to keep his happy, rich life, the temptation was just too much for him.

This movie shows the addictive nature of sin and how a person can recover, but that relapsing is a very real possibility. Of course, most people’s addictions do not directly cause anyone’s death. People’s addictions can take many forms and can be many different sins. Some addictions also lead to other sins that may or may not be of the same severity. Brooks murders people, leads another life, and has to lie about it. Lying is a venial sin and murder is one of the sins that cries out to heaven for vengeance, so the addictive sin is worse than the sin of hiding it.

The movie appears to me to be showing how such an addiction could be a person’s downfall, not necessarily in the way of killing the addicted person, but by injuring the person beyond repair. The addicted person may have to look over his or her shoulder for the rest of his or her life, trying to avoid temptation or, taking another route, trying to avoid the people who would be seen as the antagonists of those who have such an addiction, such as the police, others who have the same or similar addiction, or those whose lives the person has ruined.

The one who helps him hide his sin, Marshall, as I said before, could be an embodiment of the part of his mind that has the addiction, but he could also just as easily be a demon, tempting him. Marshall seems to be a different person from Brooks. He has to look over Brooks’ shoulder to see what he is reading, and he suggests courses of action that are different from what Brooks suggests. He also says that if Brooks dies, then he, himself, dies, so it could honestly go either way.

In conclusion, what I learned from this movie, besides how the biopsychosocial model relates to serial killers, is that addiction is a difficult issue to deal with, no matter what the addiction is. And, with everything in the modern culture and society pushing for relying more on baser, animalistic instincts and desires rather than any sort of Christian moral code, it is, now more than ever, difficult to be rid of addiction. Though we are now more connected to various helpful support groups, it is always a good idea to look to God as one makes his or her way through the void into one’s truest, most joyful life.

Disclaimer: This film has violence, profanity, and sexually explicit content.