I Am Not a Serial Killer – USA, 2016 – reviews

‘Every town has its monsters’

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a 2016 American supernatural horror feature film directed by Billy O’Brien (Isolation, Scintilla aka The Hybrid) from a screenplay co-written with Christopher Hyde, based on a novel by Dan Wells (the first instalment in the John Wayne Cleaver book trilogy). It movie stars Christopher Lloyd, Laura Fraser, Max Records, and Karl Geary.

Plot:

Sixteen-year-old John Cleaver (Max Records) is dangerous, and he knows it. He’s obsessed with serial killers but really doesn’t want to become one. Terrible impulses constantly tempt him, so for his own sake, and the safety of those around, he lives by rigid rules to keep himself “good” and “normal”.

However, when a real monster is revealed to be living in Clayton, his small town, he has to let his dark side out in order to stop it – but without his rules to keep him in check, he might be more dangerous than the monster he’s trying to kill…

Reviews:

“All of this subtlety, while refreshing, can also slow down the pace, although O’Brien tries to keep the audience engaged with humorous observations sprinkled throughout. And the full picture of what’s actually going on doesn’t become clear until the very end. So a bit of patience is required on the viewer’s part…” Kate Rife, AV Club

“Records is excellent as the lank-haired, not-entirely-likeable hero, who could plainly go either way – as his character name, which evokes John Wayne, John Wayne Gacy and Leave it to Beaver – suggests. Will he fight monsters or become one? Lloyd is one of those performers who is too rarely asked to do anything but their usual schtick (see his Doc Brown-lite turns in the recent Piranha films): here, he does his best work in years – oddly pathetic, yet properly terrifying.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“It immediately puts you on edge by delivering a shocking twist in the first act, firmly setting up the rest of the film. But because it sets the bar so high early on, the middle of the film feels like it slows to a crawl, delivering a story that unfolds in slow-burning fashion.” Ryan C., The Missing Reel

Christopher Lloyd and Max Records

“You might also wonder why a semi-realistic horror film doesn’t try to explain why some characters vanish at a whim while others stick around long enough to have their lives threatened. The arbitrary value of life in I Am Not a Serial Killer makes its nature as an ostensibly character-driven mystery that much harder to swallow. Don’t bother with this nonsensical time-waster.” Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com

“There are moments when you may disconnect from the storytelling due to a lack of any type of excitement. Nonetheless, I Am Not a Serial Killer is a more-than-decent motion picture that should be viewed by everyone who enjoys an unhurried-pace, character-focused film.” Simon Rother, Horror-Movies.ca

“It’s difficult to discern the tone O’Brien is striving for here. While the script often leans toward the blackly comic, the bland televisual direction and editing fail to allow any potentially humorous moments to breathe. There’s a great movie lost in the mix somewhere here…” Eric Hillis, The Movie Waffler

“It’s not a riot, though the Midwest textures are sharp (especially for an Irish filmmaker in an entirely Irish production), and the idea of witnessing a killing spree from the p.o.v. of a town’s funeral home is full of rich discomfort. It’s the stuff of the sub-subgenre itself that gives you a boregasm.” Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice

Release:

IFC Midnight distributed the film in North America on VOD on August 26, 2016.
The film was released in UK cinemas and On Demand on December 9th. Spirit Entertainment released the film on Blu-ray and DVD on 20 February 2017.

Filming locations:

Golden Valley, Hibbing, Minneapolis, St. Paul and Virginia, Minnesota, USA

Related:

2016 films

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