Movies Christopher Lloyd as Bill Crowley and Max Records as John Cleaver in 'I Am Not a Serial Killer'

Published on October 13th, 2016 | by Craig Silliphant

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I Am Not a Serial Killer

I Am Not a Serial Killer plays The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival on Friday, October 21st at 9 PM. For more info go to skfilmfest.com.

Based on the YA book of the same name by Dan Wells, the synopsis for I Am Not a Serial Killer sounds a bit like the logline for Dexter, a show that started out strong and left a bad taste in my mouth with poor acting and worse writing. Thankfully, the movie bears only glancing similarities to Dexter.

Max Records (the kid from Where the Wild Things Are) plays John Wayne Cleaver, a midwestern teen that has been diagnosed as a sociopath and fears he may one day become a serial killer. He lives by a set of rules designed to keep him from that path (for some reason, working with cadavers in his mother’s mortuary isn’t against the rules). When bodies start surfacing in town, John discovers that something horrifying has been unleashed in their town, and he might be the only one that can stop it.

An alternate title for this film could have been Relatable Monsters. As we meet John, he’s like a much weirder Peter Parker; a smart kid with a good heart, but a fatherless magnet for bullies at school. Instead of being obsessed with science like Parker, John is obsessed with serial murder. But even with those homicidal impulses, the movie does an excellent job of getting you on John’s side. When he crosses the line and makes some creepy threats to one of his bullies, it’s easy to take his side.

Speaking of making characters relatable, the actors in this film bring it to a higher level. Records shines as Cleaver, and Christopher Lloyd also hands in one of the best performances of his career, strange considering he’s an actor with several key roles under his belt and this will be a little seen movie.

Aside from the fact that you could probably trim ten minutes from the film where the pace sags in the middle a bit, it was a pretty excellent character piece that just happens to have a horror movie backdrop. There are some genuinely creepy moments and a satisfying game of cat and mouse, but what makes this movie work is that it’s a well-spun drama.

The film piles stress onto John’s as he wages a battle of wills on several fronts. He’s kicking against an honest-to-goodness horrifying beast, and also the monster that may lay dormant within himself. But he’s also fighting people’s conception of him as a monster, including his own mother. Is John a sociopath because he can’t feel empathy or because everyone tells him he’s a sociopath? He seems more like a kid who has been painted with the brush of mental illness, as opposed to a person who really sees other humans as disposable cardboard.

 

I Am Not a Serial Killer plays The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival on Friday, October 21st at 9 PM. For more info go to skfilmfest.com.

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About the Author

Craig Silliphant

is a D-level celebrity with delusions of grandeur. A writer, critic, creative director, broadcaster, and occasional filmmaker, his thoughts have appeared on radio, television, in print, and on the web. He is a juror on the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Awards. He loves Saskatoon. He has horrible night terrors and apocalyptic dreams.



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