Oh I love movies! The way that writers and directors can take a theme, or a bunch of themes, and put them together to make something surprising and, hopefully watchable. Take, for instance, I Am Not A Serial Killer, a mash-up of film styles taking in a slow burn thriller whilst adding some out-there sci-fi too.
I Am Not A Serial Killer sees John Wayne Cleaver (great name), played by Max Records (awesome name!) (Where The Wild Things Are, The Brothers Bloom), a young man who’s obsessed with death and, in particular, serial killers. He’s so obsessed that he thinks he might actually be one. Apart from thinking that he spends his time helping the old man over the road Crowley and his wife, played by Christopher Lloyd (he of Back To The Future fame) with general odd-jobs.
When a serial killer turns up in the town Cleaver lives in, he’s perfectly placed to see the results as his family own the funeral parlour. He becomes obsessed with finding out the pattern behind the killer and is almost more upset at the fact this particular killer doesn’t appear to have one then the killings themselves. Things take a surprising turn though when he discovers who the killer is and then who the killer is. Yes, I have written that right, you need to watch it to understand what I mean!
Billy O’Brien (The Hybrid, Isolation) is the writer and director from a novel by Dan Wells. Having not read the novel I can’t compare but O’Brien has given us something very interesting here. Stylistically it’s a nice, taught thriller, nicely shot. My main criticism is that it’s really quite slow. A snail wouldn’t have trouble keeping up with it, even towards then end when things are building to the crescendo, it’s still slow.
Part of me suspects this is on purpose, things are teased out. However, it’s quite early on when we learn who the killer is so, for me, the pace should have picked up from this point on…it doesn’t.
Christopher Lloyd puts in a good turn as Crowley though he doesn’t really get the opportunity to show off his acting chops. O’Brien does throw in a couple of nice touches such as one of the names for Lloyd that’s used and the ending, which has parallels with a previous Lloyd movie ending.
Max Records (still a great name) plays the outsider/loner teenage boy perfectly. His obsession is clear and, mixed with O’Brien’s dark directing and writing, he stands out. The rest of the cast drop in and out as required but don’t really get much to do, this is mainly all about Records.
With I Am Not A Serial Killer, O’Brien has given us an atmospheric, well made movie that will surprise with its twists and turns. It’s not a fast paced, heart pumping, edge of the seat thriller. More a thriller-noir. It’s not a horror and those going in expecting such will be disappointed, otherwise, you’ll come out having watched a thoroughly good film.