I Am Not a Serial Killer

12/02/2017 11:11

Film: I Am Not a Serial Killer

Year: 2016

Director: Billy O’Brien

Writer: Billy O’Brien and Christopher Hyde

Starring: Max Records, Christopher Lloyd and Laura Fraser



This is a movie that I learned about through podcasts. It went on a list of movies to see and this is one that I made part of my 31 days of Halloween one year. I enjoyed it, but it was a movie that I forgot about to be honest. I’m now giving it a rewatch as part of the Summer Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs as this was on the 2016 list there. The synopsis is in a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer while keeping his own inner demons at bay.

For this, we start at the scene of a murder. We see the body being put into the ambulance from a distance. Organs fall out on to the ground as they try. The vehicle leaves and we see a boy on a bicycle looking at the crime scene. Two cops get into their car and pull up to him. The teen is John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records). They ask him what he thinks and he gives them a funny response that they agree with.

We then see the boy ride his bike home. This was an interesting way to give us the lay of the town that he lives in. It is quite small and reminds me of somewhere I grew up to be honest. John lives with his mother, April (Laura Fraser), and his sister of Lauren, (Anna Sundberg). April runs a funeral home that prepares the bodies. She does this with her sister, Margaret (Christina Baldwin). John helps and he is very curious. He makes a remark about the murders and how it is good for business.

John makes a lot of comments like this. It fits the character thought as he has issues. He must see a therapist, as his school and mother are concerned about him. His doctor is Dr. Neblin (Karl Geary). He has diagnosed John as being a sociopath and he has to do things that prevent him from hurting people, because he really doesn’t see the value of those around him. This makes for an interesting interaction later with a bully.

Living across the street from the Cleavers is an elderly couple. There is Mr. Crowley (Christopher Lloyd) and his wife Kay Crowley (Dee Noah). John goes over there quite a bit to help with things. I think this is interesting with the character they are developing and makes me question some of it.

Through a comment with his aunt, we also learn that John doesn’t have many friends. He does have one by the name of Max (Raymond Barndstrom). Neither are good students, for different reasons. John gets called to the principal office for doing a report on the BTK killer. The year before he had written report on Jeffrey Dahmer, which explains some of the concerns about him.

There are more murders that occur. John noticed at the first one, this pool of thick liquid that is like oil. This keeps appearing as the body count rises. John tries to create a profile along with the help of Max. The issue is that there isn’t a lot to go on. He stumbles on who this killer is and it is someone he wasn’t necessarily expecting. This killer might not be completely human and trying to stop them could jeopardize those around him.

That’s where I’ll leave my recap. I’ve already said I learned of this from podcasts. It was from them that I also I found out that this is based on a series of novels and after seeing this, I’m interested to see what they are about and how they’re different from this movie.

With my first viewing, I originally thought there was going to be more of a mystery where this kid might be murdering people and not realizing it, but it is much different than that. John has the factors that would make him a killer, but he’s not actually killed anyone and has learned mechanisms to control his urges. This might be a slight spoiler, but it is right in the first 30 minutes or so that we learn who the killer is. I personally wished that it would have been something in the mind of John, so I wasn’t the biggest fan of where it goes. I will say that this is still interesting regardless as we almost have a like a young Dexter-type kid doesn’t want to lose control or murder anyone.

Before going into other aspects, I do want to delve into Records performance as John Wayne Cleaver. When I started to write this, I told Jaime that I thought this name was being cheeky. I still think it is, since there is the serial killer of John Wayne Gacy. When seeing that his sister’s name is Lauren Bacall Cleaver, his parents just loved old cinema. John is supposed to be a sociopath here. I think for the most part, he plays this well. There is a bit near the end, where I don’t know if it necessarily fits to what has been established. Overall, I would say he is still solid.

Moving from there, it was a surprise to me who the killer was and the creature that it was. The synopsis gives this away. Originally, I was wondering if what we were seeing was real or not. I was even questioning it again during this viewing. I think that I could have done without this. I do recognize this is probably coming from the novel, so it is ingrained in the story itself, so it is hard to hold this against the movie.

That should be enough for the story so I will take this to go over the acting. I thought it was good. I’ve already said what I can about Records. It was great to see Lloyd as he also did a great job. It is crazy to see him still acting at his age. I thought it fit the character he is taking on. I liked Fraser was good as the concerned mom. I also didn’t mind Baldwin or the rest of the supporting cast. They all played their roles well. An issue I did need to bring up, I think the movie introduces some things like Brooke (Lucy Lawton) being interested in John, but it never goes anywhere. Since this is a series of novels, I wonder if they were hoping to continue the story and setting the stage. Where we sit, it doesn’t add much.

Then I will talk about the effects of this film. They are good for the most part. A lot of them are shown at a distance, which I think is a solid choice because they are CGI. There is a point at the ending that is close and I wasn’t a huge fan of what they decided to do there. It doesn’t look horrible, but it was a twist again that I didn’t necessarily like. The editing of the film I felt was good. This one never seemed to drag to me and the tension builds until the climax. I also thought the score was fine. It doesn’t stand out to me completely, but I do know some scenes it helped to set the mood.

Now with that said, I would recommend seeing this film. It has an interesting main character of John and seeing what he deals with was good to me. There are some interesting ideas explored. I will be honest though; I didn’t care for the ending. The acting what carries it though especially since Records was solid and Lloyd was great. I thought the use of CGI was good for the most part, except the reveal at the ending. The editing of the film helped to build the necessary tension and the score was solid as well. Now I feel that this film is above average and it has come up since my previous viewing. This one is tame so I would recommend it to horror or non-horror fans alike. If you are into true crime, this is an interesting take.


My Rating: 7 out of 10