Back when the book first came out, I read I Am Not a Serial Killer and enjoyed it. I am not one who usually goes for horror, but something clicked for me with the book. The film does a decent job adapting it, but it is not anywhere near as good as the book.
John Wayne Cleaver is a sociopath. He works to control his deadly impulses by following a set of rules that gives his life a rigid structure. When a serial killer starts working in his town, John becomes intrigued because the killer doesn’t fit the general profile of how a serial killer acts.
Unsurprisingly, I Am Not a Serial Killer has a very “indy film” feel. I am not an independent film connoisseur, so the “indy” vibe of the film did not work for me. In many ways, it worked against it. The flow of the film was not really smooth, with a lot of the film spent in vignettes rather than parts that felt solidly connected.
The music felt weird—as if chosen by random—and it didn’t seem to always fit very well. Perhaps by Adrian Johnston was trying to create a discordant feel. If so, it worked really well for that. The only song that really fit was “Spirit in the Sky” at the end of the film. For me, it really fit within the flow of the film.
Max Records did a very good job as John. His facial expressions really captured the turmoil inside the character, covering both serious and borderline manic. His lines were not always believable, but those moments were few and far between.
Mr. Crowley was appropriately creepy, and Christopher Lloyd really hit the mark in his portrayal. He’s had years of practice with getting the crazy down, and I can’t imagine anyone else portraying Crowley. His performance was the highlight of I Am Not a Serial Killer. Laura Fraser also struck a chord as John’s mom. She felt very believable. Outside of the three main characters, however, none of the characters really stood out for me.
The film did a good job capturing the creepy, otherworldly feel in the book. While the ending in the film didn’t provide as much closure as in the book, it still worked pretty well. It will be interesting to see if they do the other two books in the trilogy. I don’t recommend I Am Not a Serial Killer for anyone younger than older teens. Some of the scenes might give people nightmares. It is a solid film, though, and a solid adaptation of Dan Wells‘ book.
Release Date: August 26, 2016 (USA)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: 2 (some minor, brief stronger (s-word, f-word))
Violence: 4 (some brutal violence, graphic embalming depictions, monster attacks, multiple deaths)