We all know someone who is…well…a little creepy. There is some sort of element about them that gives you the heebie jeebies. Whether it be the way they act, the things they say, or the peculiar activities they take part in, they stir this warning within you that echoes throughout. As much as we’d hate to admit it, there’s an uneasy twist in your stomach as you wonder: “Could they be a future serial killer?”
It’s a pondering that we’ve all had and most times, it’s just an odd behaviour, the person probably won’t become a murderer. But if a series of killings fell upon your small community, wouldn’t they be the first person you’d suspect?
I Am Not a Serial Killer revolves around Jon, a young teenager with admittedly homicidal tendencies. Working through his issues with his dismayed mother and a kindly therapist in tow, Jon has techniques and mantras to help work through his darker thoughts. However, he is still ostracised and bullied at school, fluctuating his patience. When a group of brutal killings happen across his small town of Clayton, Jon’s thoughts become more twisted as he is sent further to the edge of what’s acceptable. That is until he comes face to face with a whole new monster – one worse than his mind.
Directed by Billy O’Brien, this soft indie horror has great elements and a terrific unwinding story. The movie falls into the usual issues of low budget movies such as long silences, beautiful imagery that has no place within a narrative scheme, and the music is over-bearing at points.) As well as this the reveal comes too soon. While I won’t give anything away, they certainly miss a trick with some of the more suspenseful elements here: You feel they could’ve manipulated the tension and fear a little longer with the audiences.
That being said, I Am Not a Serial Killer is a terrific and disturbing feature movie shot on 16mm. The aesthetic captures the small town aesthetic perfectly (bar aforementioned parts) and the winter-laden land in which Jon and this killer romp around. It’s somewhat haunting with the spectrum of winter and autumn gloriously depicted on the big screen.
The two figures that stalk this sleepy town with horror are played by Max Records and Christopher Lloyd. For a young actor, Records has mastered character portrayal well. Really well. Superb even. He has strong ability to transform an easily one-note disassociated murderous teen into an amiable anti-hero who tries his best to control his emotions and sickening thoughts. Though he is clearly a sociopath, he has hopes beyond his mind-set. Matched with Christopher Lloyd’s shuddering mysterious elderly gentleman, Records proves he has skills beyond his years. And, it’s moot to describe Lloyd as amazing because he is brilliant in everything he does. Here he moves and possesses this character with distinct duality that I cannot and must not elaborate on for fear of removing your enjoyment of the twisting story.
Overall, I Am Not a Serial Killer is a thoughtful meditation on the extremities of mental illness whilst balanced with a creepy and engrossing killer flick. Max Records and Christopher Lloyd are an insatiable on-screen pair with a dark and brooding chemistry. While it may falter in place, the gripping actors sublimely convey a sinister yet brilliant movie.
I Am Not a Serial Killer plays at the BFI London Film Festival this week.
The film is released in cinemas on the 9th December