VOD film review: I Am Not a Serial Killer
Ivan Radford | On 21, Feb 2017
Director: Billy O’Brien
Cast: Max Record, Christopher Lloyd
I am not a serial killer. That’s what teenager John Cleaver (Max Records) tells himself every day – and after a few minutes in his company, it’s easy to see why.
A borderline sociopath with homicidal tendencies, he shows all the signs of growing up to become the local town’s next mass murderer. The problem? Someone’s already beaten him to it, with gruesome bodies turning up all over the neighbourhood. For John, a boy who works in his family’s morgue and has an obsession with serial killers, it’s a dream come true – and his fascination soon turns to investigating the spate of gooey corpses.
Based on the book of the same name by Dan Wells, the result is a macabre little gem, which veers from coming-of-age awkwardness to supernatural horror. Director Billy O’Brien navigates that twisting path with impressive precision, keeping everything tightly paced but still finding time for hints of teen romance at school and a sweet relationship with the old man across the road (Christopher Lloyd).
Lloyd is in his element here, mirroring John’s alien outlook with his own outsider perspective; a man whose only real connection to this earth is his devoted wife. But while their chemistry is intriguing and the frosty backdrop is chilling (the decision to release it in UK cinemas at Christmas was inspired), Max is the key to the whole project, managing to blend the familiar angst seen in typical teen dramas with a morbid, eerie presence; he’s creepy, but charming; weird, but winning. It’s hard to believe this is the same boy who starred in Where the Wild Things Are seven years ago. I am not a serial killer, he tells us. He’s not – but he is a rising talent who’s definitely worth watching.
Offbeat and, come the finale, genuinely unsettling, this is a creepily charming treat.