Humans kill. And many derive pleasure from doing it. Maybe it’s just a question of time before you become a murderer. I am Not a Serial Killer explores the morbid curiosity with death and assassination that many teenagers have. John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records), a teenage outcast who lives in a small Minnesota city, impersonates this strange drive. He leads the investigation of a serial killer and invites you to violate the crime scene with him. It is most likely you will follow his invitation. I Am Not a Serial Killer is a clever tale of a profoundly twisted mind, and a likely blockbuster for this winter season.
John likes to spy on his neighbours. He is a hybrid of a Hitchcockian creature and TV detective Dexter. His close friends are an old perv, Crowley (Christopher Lloyd), and a schoolmate who loves violent video games. His mother April (Laura Fraser) works at a funeral home, so he is used to assist her with the autopsy procedures. Some of the most thrilling and ludicrous scenes are set in this morgue room. “Be afraid, be very afraid“, David Cronenberg would say. John also goes out fishing with his therapist, but this is only a trivial detail.
A serial killer has taken a hit on a small town. John is intrigued and decides to follow one of the suspects into a bushy and snowy territory, only to witness of a murder. Violent deaths are commonly associated with winter and cold weather. The film is set roughly between Halloween and Christmas in the Northern hemisphere. For Christians it is a time between the celebration of the deceased (November 2nd) and the birth of the Earth saviour (December 25th). Hence a time between death and hope, passing through the stages of desperation, loneliness and brutal crimes – 9/11 among them. The cinematography of the film reminds the audience of those states of the spirit, etching images of frozen lakes and hazy alleys on our subconscious.
John was diagnosed as a sociopath, and perhaps he has more serious mental health problems. Is it all happening in his mind? Did he really see the serial killer in action? The fast journey into John’s decadent mind is certain to drive you into a frenzy. And you will relish some of the murders, particularly the therapist’s death. (Sorry for the spoiler, but I bet if you ever had a therapist, the thought of killing him has probably crossed your mind.)
Christopher Lloyd delivers a fascinating performance. Though Lloyd is most known by the trilogy Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985, 1989), he never stopped supporting young and creative directors, accepting roles even in debut short films, such as in The Coin by our dirty Fabien Martorell. In Billy O’Brien first feature, he recites ‘The Tyger’, a poem by William Blake that goes straight to the heart of a sociopath’s mind. In fact, Blake inspired other film characters such as the role played by Johnny Depp in Jim Jarmush’s cult movie Dead Man (1995). Blake is an open gate to a complex and terrifying cosmovision.
Some of the symbolisms in the feature – such as freaky Hallowen thrills – have been already exhaustively explored in splatter and horror flicks. Still, stick to the very end of the movie, for a very unexpected twist. You will learn that penetrating someone else’s mind is indeed a very tough job.
I Am not a Serial Killer is out in the UK on Friday, December 9th. Watch the film trailer below: