I am not a serial killer

MOVIE REVIEW: I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

Quite often I get asked for movie suggestions. Often that suggestion comes with the caveat, usually along the lines of “not the usual found footage, or stupid teens”. Luckily there are a few suggestions I can give and I Am Not a Serial Killer is one of them. It's definitely not your usual horror film, and while the main character is a teen, he's not your usual clueless, horny teen.
I Am Not A Serial Killer / Fair use doctrine.
I Am Not a Serial Killer on Netflix
I am not a Serial Killer on Netflix

I Am Not a Serial Killer on Netflix

I Am Not a Serial Killer is about a young teen who is fighting sociopathic urges and tendencies. He hasn't hurt anyone yet, but he can fill the pull and is intrigued by death. It doesn't help that he works in the family's funeral home. His personal conflicts are exacerbated when dead bodies start turning up around town. He's drawn to the victims and the crime scenes, and it soon becomes apparent that the killer, might be something more than human.
The film is based on the first novel in the John Wayne Cleaver series by writer Dan Wells. It was directed by Brian O'Brien. I Am Not a Serial Killer stars Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are), as John Wayne Cleaver and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Piranha 3-D) as his elderly neighbor Bill Crowley. That's about all the plot I'm going to give you. It would be a crime to spoil it any more. The film develops fairly quickly so you wont have to wait long.
As I mentioned, I Am Not a Serial Killer isn't your usual film with stupid teen protagonists and victims. Even though the lead is a teen, and the book is based on is considered Young Adult, John Wayne Cleaver is nit your typical teen. He's a troubled, complex character, a clinically diagnosed sociopath, fighting his darker urges. His conflict, trying to stay on the side of light, while investigating, and trying to prevent more murders is just as compelling as the conflict between him and the killer.
And the killer is no less complex, as we find out he is more than a cold blooded killer. Slowly we learn what drives him, as his killing drives John closer to his dark side. The film allows you to have some understanding of the killer and why he does what he does. Even the background characters are more than the usual cardboard, two dimensional set pieces. John's mom struggles to understand him, while he feels detached from her, we realize she is at least trying to stay connected.
Lloyd gives the usual superb performance, in a role that's a little more complex than bumbling scientist, or elderly crime lord. Powers is a relative newcomer but makes a believable teen antagonist in his first, adult, or young adult role. I really don't want to give away anymore and it's hard to talk about each character without doing so. Let's just say both roles stray far outside the usual hero/villain archetype and leave it at that.
The story does have a twist, fairly early in, and it might be less than shocking, but it lends to an interesting story. A story I wasn't expecting when I decided to watch it. The twist propels it out of the thriller category and squarely into the realm of horror. Don't let the Young Adult tag on the book scare you away, I Am Not a Serial Killer is great for adult viewing. It's not a gore fest by any means but there are some bloody, gut-filled scenes that might make some queasy.
The only real negative was in the final scenes, where there are some special effects that seem a bit less than horrifying. It really didn't bother me but I'm sure some horror fans may claim it ruined the film for them. Some people are just way too willing to let anything ruin a film for them.
So for a smart, well written, well acted film that isn't your average found footage, teens lost in the woods, inbred slasher fare, check out I Am Not A Serial Killer. It's currently streaming on Netflix. On a scale of 1-10, I'm giving it a stout 7 stars.

Posted by Allen Alberson

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