Film Review: ‘I Am Not a Serial Killer’

In a small mid-western town, a teenage social outcast with a penchant for drama tries to find a way to live with unwanted homicidal yearnings as he tracks down a local serial killer that he seeks as a mentor.

by D R Harward, staff writer

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a story about a teenage social outcast who is struggling to keep his homicidal yearnings at bay until he becomes fascinated by an elderly neighbor whom he discovers is an active local serial killer.

The film opens with a gritty scene depicting the aftermath of a gristly murder that had occurred on the main street of any-town USA. After the victim gets loaded into an ambulance, a small crowd of on-lookers begins to disperse, including a teenager who hops on to his bike and begins to pedal away. The town sheriff brings his cruiser to a stop nearby and calls out to the kid, “What’s your prognosis, John?”

John thinks for a moment and replies, “He’s dead for sure.” then turns and rides away.

As the opening credits roll, we follow John as he makes his way home through the dilapidated streets of the slowly dying factory town. Upon arriving home, he goes inside and begins to wash-up in a utility sink, the kind that are commonly found in anterooms in rural America, but as the camera slowly pans out, it is soon that this particular slop-sink is located in the embalming room of a mortuary.

John’s family business causes him to be ostracized and relentlessly bullied by other students at school. John’s morbid fascination with death is probably to be expected in a young man who’s after-school job involves embalming the towns’ deceased, but his school principal, and other town authorities, fear that John is not normal. Quasi-pranks, like turning in an in-depth profile of Jeffery Dahlmer as his final project for a creative writing class, which earned John a weekly meeting with a behavioral therapist.

John just feels that he is different, that he has to fight to keep his demons at bay. His therapist, who is secretly dating John’s mother, tells John that things like torturing small animals are often predictors pointing to a possible future serial killers. The doctor stresses that the choice to act upon his homicidal urges are his alone. John seems to be purposely goading the authority figures, as teenagers are wont to do–until he gets a close-up look at the ravaged body of the recent murder victim. Looking beyond the horrifically ripped-away belly of the corpse, John discovers that certain organs seem to be missing.

As John sets out to track down the killer he begins to suspect his elderly neighbor from across the street, superbly portrayed by Christopher Lloyd. Soon John and his neighbor are caught in a game of cat-and-mouse, one in which the viewer is kept unsure of who the cat is from moment-to-moment. The suspense is thickened with the growing suspicion that John is seeking a mentor, while at the same time wants to put an end to the killings that have begun to claim more of his neighbors’ lives.

The movie ends with a surprise twist that offers a truly unique possible reason for why serial killers do what they do. Although this film is firmly within the horror genre, its lack of blood and gore make it available to a wider audience. An entertaining hour and 42 minutes, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars–Check it Out.

Christopher Lloyd as Bill Crowley and Max Records as John Cleaver in 'I Am Not a Serial Killer'D.R. Harward | The Valley Star

Christopher Lloyd as Bill Crowley and Max Records as John Cleaver in ‘I Am Not a Serial Killer’

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