Do you like shows about serial killers, sociopaths and those pesky, none-too-slightly unhinged stalwarts of horror flicks that go bump in the night?
Mining our collective fascination revived 25 years ago with The Silence of the Lambs, I Am Not A Serial Killer is in equal measure a shocker/mystery and introspective if superfluous fictional venture into what creates and drives the subjects of too many documentaries.
John (Max Records from Where the Wild Things Are) operates a mortuary with his mother (Laura Fraser of Breaking Bad fame). He’s an introverted teenager, often occasioning friendships with those around his small town including neighbour Crowley (Christopher Llyod). After a serial killer begins to terrorize the suburbanites, investigations by John, absent police, who play a surprisingly minor role in the action, lead him to challenge his own sense of identity, convinced that he himself is a sociopath.
Based on the young adult series by Dan Wells and clearly an attempt to kick-start more than one entry, I Am Not A Serial Killer, between leaving more than enough hanging in the air for a sequel, piles in the clichés. There’s the flipping through increasingly violent hand-drawings in a notebook, the shadowy figure emerging from a steam vent, naked references to Rear Window and (possibly unintentionally) the lesser and more recent Kevin Costner thriller Mr Brooks.
John’s own captivation with serials killer, evident to no small degree in the legions of Dexter and crime-show fanatics, even mirrors that seen in Thomas Harris’ iconic, series-setting Red Dragon, most recently adapted into cult show Hannibal, with John going so far as to obsess over William Blake’s work as that same novel’s foe did years before.
One great, extended encounter with a high school bully was notable for it being so distinct from the rest of the dialogue and action, a genuinely frightening, intimidatory scene amidst a near-perpetual prosaic, save one uniquely tense confrontation with another of John’s neighbours toward the end of the film.
The final, outlandish sequence, wholly out of step with the rest of the picture and evidently the intended subject of prospective sequels, deserved more than passing lip-service and a fleeting prelude, this type of denouement handled much better in thrillers like Super 8 or 10 Cloverfield Lane.
Fascinating yet misguided, I Am Not A Serial Killer should delight the most ardent of crime fans and Dexter-devotees.
I Am Not A Serial Killer is screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Friday 29 July and Friday 12 August, for tickets head to the Festival website