Director: Billy O’Brien
Starring: Max Records, Christopher Lloyd & Laura Fraser
Synopsis: In a small Midwestern town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.
Rating: 15 Duration: 103 minutes Release date: 20 February (UK)
Over the past few years there have been relatively few really good horror films. The big Hollywood productions like The Conjuring and Insidious have done a lot for the genre, but the great modern horrors like It Follows, The Babadook and The Witch have benefited from an independent feel and distribution. This has allowed the films to become their own beast and to find different ways to scare their audience. I Am Not A Serial Killer follows in the mould set by those films, and despite not reaching their heights, it is still a superior horror that makes you care enough for those involved that you are truly torn by the time it ends.
John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records) is a teenager with more than his fair share of struggles. Not only is high school a struggle with all its clichés and troubled students, Cleaver is also a diagnosed sociopath. Bullied and clearly struggling, Cleaver works in his mothers funeral home where his more macabre impulses are satiated. Despite this, he still needs to live by a set of rules, self-imposed, to stop him from doing anything truly awful. Cleaver befriends an elderly man called Crowley (Christopher Lloyd) around the same time that a serial killer sends this quiet American town into panic.
Set in a small unnamed American town as the winter months set in, I Am Not A Serial Killer has an immediate connection to the similarly set Fargo. As in Fargo, the town feels like another member of the cast, living and breathing its way through the film as we learn its deepest secret. This rural piece of Americana is haunting in its beauty and becomes a much more scarier place to be as the films events progress. Night time walks become much more sinister, while the onset of snow from Halloween to Christmas adds a tremendous amount to the already taut atmosphere. The cinematography echoes the old school films of the 70’s and 80’s and looks more like Halloween or Assault on Precinct 13.
It’s retro feel also resonates through the films drawn-out pace. That may put some people off, but the lack of jump scares in favour of characterisation and storytelling bode well if you are willing to see it through. Director Billy O’Brien’s third full feature shows no lack of confidence and he brings out two solid central performances. Max Records teenager’s determination to not let his inner turmoil boil over and his adolescent naivety play at both ends of the spectrum. Christopher Lloyd, in an ideal world would be gaining award season attention for his performance here in what is surely one of his best roles in an already stellar career.
I Am Not A Serial Killer won’t appeal to everybody’s tastes and nor will it likely find much recognition outside of the horror fan base, but do not let that put you off. This is a film that gives as much as it takes without relying on genre clichés and leaves an indelible mark on the audience.
- Mood Cut
- Phone Box Comparison
- Deleted Scenes
- Lake Storyboarding
- Toby Froud Monster Selects