I Am Not a Serial Killer online movie review - The Festival Darling Hits Netflix!
It's 2017, and even though I Am Not a Serial Killer was released way back in march of last year, it has recently been added to Netflix thus giving the movie it's most widespread accessibility.
I Am Not a Serial Killer has been on my radar since that South By Southwest Film Festival screening and I have only heard good things so when I saw it was headed to Netflix I was quite excited. It has been a while since I have seen a real solid horror movie, actually probably since I saw It Follows in 2015. While it's not really fair to compare the two movies, they do have some similarities.
The basics of I Am Not a Serial Killer are pretty basic. The appropriately named John Wayne Cleaver is our main character, a teenager who has some issues that most normal heroes don't have, he is a diagnosed sociopath. John struggles with the idea that he will become a serial killer, so he comes up with a set of rules to control himself when he starts to think about indulging his impulses. He is good at controlling himself with the help of his therapist, and oddly enough working in the mortuary that his mother owns and operates. The small nondescript mid-western town that John lives in has been plagued by some rather grizzly murders and John feels that he can figure out who has been committing these crimes, either from a connection to the killer or possibly something deeper.
I Am Not a Serial Killer is a slow moving affair. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the movie takes it's time setting up relationships between characters and giving some solid character development that is usually glossed over or explained away with boring exposition. The movie lets the actors show and not tell, which even though it is one of the biggest rules in film making is often forgotten by horror movies. Max Records who plays John Wayne Cleaver does a great job of getting his character into the gray area that seems so difficult to achieve. John is not only a flawed person because of his sociopath, but he is also a kid, he does not always make the right choice or he may not always be quick with a line. He feels like a real high school student, with a bit of a twist.
The pacing of the movie is not the only thing that lends a hand to separate the tone from most other serial killer movies. I Am Not a Serial Killer makes efforts to not be a cookie cutter low budget horror movie, because it's really not. It blends genres quite well I think but also relies on its story and tone to drive the emotion, rather than well timed musical cues and immense gore. There are no jump scares here, which I can appreciate. Jump scares to me are like hot sauce, when used sparingly the effect is much more enjoyable, but when overused the whole thing is ruined. Don't necessarily expect to be given nightmares by I Am Not a Serial Killer, it may just keep you up at night with some self reflection.
While I Am Not a Serial Killer does not stand up to The Babadook or It Follows, it is certainly a good movie and like those other two (which I believe are the two best horror movies I have seen in the last few years) it avoids being a clone of all the mass produced horror movies that make 200x their budget because every guy hopes this will finally be the scary movie that will make that girl he likes jump into his arms for protection. If you come into it looking for more of a good movie rather than a scary or bone chilling one you should be good. Enjoy the creepiness of the atmosphere and the well told story, and the girl you are trying to impress with how tough you are during scary movies may just appreciate your taste in movies a bit more.