I Am Not A Serial Killer

Directed by: Billy O’Brien Starring: Max Records, Christopher Lloyd, Laura Fraser, Karl Geary, Lucy Lawton Running Time: 104 mins

December 9 will see the release of I Am Not A Serial Killer, a screenplay adaptation of Dan Wells’s novel of the same name.

Although the film is based in mid-west United States, as was the book, and written by Wells-a Utah native-it was in fact funded by the Irish Film Board and made by Cork’s Billy O’Brien.

The film centres on John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records), a diagnosed sociopath who lives by a strict set of rules to keep himself in check and prevent himself from acting on his desire to kill. I Am Not A Serial Killer is dependent on Record’s character – he excels in the role of the sociopathic teenager as he self-investigates a number of murders in his hometown, a small rural village.

The film’s pacing dovetails with how John Wayne Cleaver retreats into himself and acts upon his psychotic tendencies and for the most part the film is timed quite well, starting slowly, with the plot shifting early on in the film which is when Records really comes into his own – his intensity identical to that of the screenplay.

Although the central character largely contributes to the dark themes explored by the film, the real darkness comes from co-star Christopher Lloyd as Cleaver’s eerily creepy neighbour Crowley. Lloyd’s performance is essential in the smooth transitioning between plot lines and his ability to switch emotions effortlessly acts as one of the strong points in the film.

Subplots within I Am Not A Serial Killer act as a temporary respite to the ongoing action John Wayne Cleaver constantly encounters. For example the performance from Laura Fraser, who plays John’s mother, struggling to deal with her sociopath of a son, his counsellor, her stroppy and difficult daughter and her uncharacteristically mortuary.

Another respite comes in the form of Irishman Karl Geary, John’s counsellor. The interactions between the two provide some much needed humour.

Ultimately the film’s success lies in said plots shifts and twists that occur throughout the middle and end of the film and its only the high standard of acting and clever pacing of the screenplay that I Am Not A Serial Killer is able to transition from print to the big screen.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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