I Am Not a Serial Killer
Directed by Billy O’Brien
Based on the Best-Selling Novel by Dan Wells
Don’t worry, that’s just the name of the movie, not a thinly veiled attempt to put you at ease. If you don’t know whether or not I’m a serial killer by now, then it’s already too late for you. Feel better?
This is movie is extremely recent and how I found out about it is kind of a cool story. If you don’t want to hear it, or if you’ve already heard it; you can just skip to the review section further down the page.
So how did I discover movie? Well, I was recently cruising the Caribbean with the Author–
Seriously, I was. It was a giant boat with thousands of other people. A couple hundred of us had gathered for the 2016 Writing Excuses workshop and retreat. It was amazing. I swam in the bluest waters I have ever seen, saw absolutely gorgeous islands, and met dozens of awesome people that are just as screwed up as I am. It was expensive but worth every second of pain and effort.
See what you did. This is supposed to be a post about the movie, not my amazing adventure with cool and interesting people. No more interruptions.
Like I said, I was cruising the Caribbean with lots of other authors. One of the workshop instructors, Dan Wells, told us that his first book I Am Not a Serial Killer (which I reviewed previously) was being made into a movie. In fact, it had already been completed and we, the members of the workshop, were given a chance to watch said movie in a massive theater, on a boat, sailing in the Atlantic Ocean. And that, my friend, is why I have chosen to write this review and bring your attention to a movie you might otherwise miss.
On to the Review
My favorite summary of the movie comes from IMDB.
“In a small Midwestern Town, a troubled teen with homicidal tendencies must hunt down and destroy a supernatural killer whilst keeping his own inner demons at bay.”
I think it’s a great pitch for the movie, but it isn’t entirely accurate. John Wayne Cleaver doesn’t suffer from homicidal tendencies, he has been diagnosed with sociopathy and possesses many behavioral traits found in serial Killers. He even has a series of rules to help him combat the darkness within and live a “normal” life. But when bodies start turning up in his hometown, he has to break his rules to combat another, greater evil.
I loved the original book and found the cinematic rendition to be just as incredible.
Many movies in this genre rely on “jump scares” and brutality to win over and frighten their audience. This book does neither. There is some gore (roughly PG-13 level), but the tension and horror continues to build as the movie unwinds. I really enjoyed that. I already new the story from reading the book, but by the end I was still holding my breath as John baited, taunted, and fled from a monster out of his nightmares.
All the cast, including the talented Christopher Lloyd, absolutely nailed their roles. Movies like this can be difficult to pull of because much of the struggle and tension comes from internal conflicts, especially in the beginning of the movie. Oh, and in the middle… and the end. Point is, between the superb directing of Billy O’Brien and the stellar acting of Max Records and others, these heavy conflicts still came across.
Most movies based on books try to take a running leap into fame and notoriety only to fall flat on their face because they forgot what made the story great in the first place.
I Am Not a Serial Killer the movie did NOT suffer such a fate. In fact, There were only minor changes in the plot right until the very end of the movie. True, there were things that had to be cut, relationships and struggles that couldn’t be given the time they need, but the core of the story remained, untouched and un-tarnished. At first, I wasn’t sure what to think of the changes, but then everything fell solidly into place in ways I hadn’t been expecting.
Many alterations were necessary to adapt the story from one media to another. In the book, a lot more time was spent in Johns thoughts. It was easy for the reader to see him slowly spiral away from normalcy and out of control. It was also much easier in print to bring across the disturbed nature of John’s mind. Such internal motivations and conflicts are difficult to bring across on the screen without resorting to voice-overs. That is a weakness of Cinema, but I think the movie handled it incredibly well.
I truly enjoyed this film. It doesn’t have the flash of major projects like the Saw series, but I’ll take the slow burn of I Am Not a Serial Killer over gore-fests any day. I Am Not a Serial Killer is available on Amazon Video, and Halloween is just around the corner. Check it out, if only for Christopher Lloyd. Besides, this film might contain the secrets you need should a killer, totally not me, move into your town.
Here’s a taste.
C. R. Rowenson Out
Thanks for reading. I hope that you are at least a little curious to see what the movie is actually like. Did you enjoy the review? Do you have any questions? Are there any other movies or books you would like to see me discuss. If so, please leave a comment below, email me, find me on Facebook, or sign up for my monthly newsletter. If you sign up you will receive advanced notice of the posts for the coming month.
I’ll see you soon. Until then– Happy Halloween and keep creeping.