I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
Directed by: Billy O'Brian
Starring: Max Records, Christopher Lloyd, Laura Fraser
John Wayne Cleaver is dangerous and he knows it. He is 16 and helps his Mum and Aunt at the family Mortuary. John has been diagnosed as having sociopathic tendencies and is obsessed with serial killers but really doesn’t want to become one. So for his own sake and the safety of those around him he lives by rigid rules to keep himself “good” and “normal”.
When somebody starts murdering people in John’s small Mid-West town, he has to investigate and risk letting his own dark side out in order to stop the killer. But without his rules to keep him in check he might be more dangerous than the killer he is stalking. As the icy winter tightens its grip on the community a deadly game of cat and mouse ensues…
Having seen the trailer for I Am Not A Serial Killer, I already felt that I was going to enjoy this film. What I didn't expect was the thick vein of humour running through it. This film had me laughing out loud with a brilliant sight gag in the first ten seconds. It's just such an unexpected moment but works brilliantly.
Shortly after we meet our protagonist, John Cleaver. He's a mostly typical high-school kid, except he's emotionally detached from everything around him and through working at his mother's mortuary gets to see a lot of dead bodies. So he's a little different and an easy target for some bullies at his school, but he manages to cope.
When some of the townsfolk start to get killed in horrific ways, it looks like the small town of Clayton might have its own serial killer. This piques John's interest but even more so when it transpires that each victim is missing a body part.
What makes this film work so well is the sheer unpredictability of the script. It never heads in a direction you'd intuitively expect it to, because its protagonist is so unpredictable. You never really know how John is going to react t any given situation once he starts to step outside his self-imposed rules. He see's situations differently and his solutions to problems are very off-kilter sometimes.
There are a couple of issues - firstly John's psychiatrist seems to be a little unprofessional - never treating John in his office, always out and about somewhere - and how professional really is it to tell him he checks all the markers to be a serial killer? Additionally some of the conversations are particularly on-the-nose (a meeting in the Principal's office is a prime example of driving the point home a little too hard).
Overall this is quite low-key, there are some surprising moments but they are never overplayed and usually seen from a distance. This is a very involving film, with a very interesting protagonist and a surprisingly sympathetic antagonist, also. The director, Billy O'Brien, impressed me with his previous film, The Hybrid, a "soldiers on a mission" with sci-fi overtones, so I was already on-board for this, but its great to see him handle material which is so contemplative.
8 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)