The serial-killer genre that gave us characters as diversely memorable as Dr. Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and “Serial Mom” (Kathleen Turner), had been on the wane. Murder-as-entertainment was no longer a novelty — in terms of body count, any franchise horror movie could up the numbers in a fraction of the screen time, and often with more creativity. (Anyone for “Saw?”) And after “Kill Bill,” it felt like we’ve been through the whole long menu in terms of senseless, gratuitous, excessively stylized violence. Been there, done that. Thanks but we’ll pass on dessert.

But here’s a heads-up to nostalgic, serial killer fans. Thanks to the efforts of Kevin Costner, a much-needed gust of second wind is whirling in the genre. Meet Earl Brooks (Costner): successful CEO of a box-manufacturing company, devoted family man . . . and deranged murderer. Earl’s secret closet contains his “killer” outfits of identical black jackets, pants, gloves and shoes. He always vacuums his victims’ houses and apartments, partly to clear up any forensic evidence, but mostly because he’s obsessively tidy. Earl presides over his murder scenes like a meticulous housekeeper cum artist; joyfully he wipes blood stains from a banister rail and then raises one arm in a graceful balletic arc. Earl is also not without a sense of humor. When one of the “urges” hits during the night, he tells beautiful wife Emma (Marg Helgenberger) that he’s “off to the factory to play with some glaze.” That Earl has just been awarded Man of the Year of Portland Ore., adds an extra dollop of something sticky and black.

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