I'm Not a Serial Killer
I'm Not a Serial Killer
2016. Directed by Billy O'Brien.
A young "Dexter", a possible supernatural killer, and the legendary Christopher Lloyd come together in I'm Not a Serial Killer to deliver an up close and personal twist on the serial killer genre.
Based on a popular young adult novel series, the story focuses on John Wayne Cleaver, a teenage sociopath who has developed a moral framework to avoid killing the people he comes into contact with. Cleaver lives and works in a mortuary with his mother. In the course of his work, he realizes that there is an actual serial killer on the lose in his sleepy Midwestern town and decides to track the killer down. The problem is that you not quite sure if his motive is justice or camaraderie.
Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are) carries the action as Cleaver. His devotion to the source material along with an ability to display a sense of yearning uncoupled from empathy was fascinating. Christopher Lloyd gives a somber and and serious performance as a neighbor with whom Cleaver interacts. Their chemistry is abrasive and fraternal at the same time, helping the razor's edge feel of the narrative.
Robbie Ryan's 1:66 cinematography is grainy and in your face at all times. You feel the cold of the snow and the strange, conspiratory dilemmas of the characters as a dangerous game of predator and predator plays out on the lonely streets of the town. Steve Parr's chilling score packs on layers of subtext to the bendy road the audience is travelling.
O'Brien and Christopher Hyde's script is the rock star. Adapting Dan Wells' novel, they manage to hit the high notes of the plot while taking time with intimate scenes between the key players and highlighting Cleaver's set of "rules". His evolution into amateur detective in a small town is done in such a slick way that you're instantly reminded of classics like Blow Out and Blue Velvet, but with a very, very different approach. The detective may in fact be the killer and it's this mystery that keeps you guessing for most of the first half. If there is a flaw, it's the twist, which may turn some viewers off as the film rapidly switches directions and genres in media res.
Available now for digital rental, I'm Not a Serial Killer is basement level film making. It's not beholden to the Hollywood machine and chooses to present it's subject matter in a paradoxical manner. What begins as an ice cold serial killer character study morphs into a fast paced murder mystery and ends as a poignant love story and commentary on the singular nature of mankind and possibly the beyond.
One of the better horror offerings of 2016. If you're in the mood for a low budget horror film that is unique and really fun, give this one a go.