I Am Not A Serial Killer, so claims teenager John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records), but if that’s the case, who’s doing away with half the town, with the film first showing us a dead body being wheeled out of a building.
John certainly seems to know a lot about them, which helped when writing about Dennis Raider and Jeffrey Dahmer for school essays – along with endless chats with his best friend about them – and his therapist states he has a lot of predictors for serial killer behaviour… that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll become one, but…. 😉
That said, much like MP Stella Creasey stated she responds to Twitter trolls by sending them a picture of a flower, John counters them by saying nice things to people when they try to denigrate him, in a bid to get rid of the bullies – sort of ‘kill them with kindness’… but not actually KILL them, right? Well, he spends a great deal of time working in an undertakers run by his mum, April (The Missing‘s Laura Fraser), and for someone who can’t be far from death, there’s something odd about old man Crowley (Christopher Lloyd).
Max Records shows some great promise in this and there’s great chemistry together with the always-brilliant Lloyd. There’s definitely some spooky stuff going down, which sometimes feels a bit comedic as it’s so daft. Beyond that, naturally, it does get dark in places, and there are some really engaging moments, but overall, while it’s uneven, it is still worth a watch. You certainly never know quite where it’s going so it maintains the intrigue throughout.
It also has some roots in the schlock-horror genre from the ’80s, but in a good and entertaining way. It shows that you CAN still make a creature feature without resorting wholly to CGI.
The film is presented in the original widescreen ratio of 1.66:1 – not an oft-used choice by filmmakers and it seems a bit odd given that the test footage for the film, as mentioned in the extras, was shot at approximately 2.35:1. However, it does have a deliberately grainy picture, even showing some hairs trapped in the camera gate at around 15 minutes.
The sound is in DTS HD-MA 5.1, but apart from the fact that this is mostly a drama with dialogue and atmosphere, and not a special effects extravaganza, I wasn’t expecting a great deal. Alas, there’s often poor audio at times. This is due to the way it was filmed, but that doesn’t help when you can’t make out the dialogue and there are no subtitles.
The extras are as follows, and may include some spoilers, so I advise you watch the film first. What’s here is brief, but get straight to the point so are well worth a look. I would’ve preferred them to go into more detail, though:
- Mood Cut (3:26): The short test film made for I Am Not A Serial Killer, presented around 2.35:1 (and the ratio varying) but with some anamorphic squeeze, so with that corrected it could be closer to 2.75:1 – a world away from 1.66:1. Max Records takes the lead role again, at the age of just 13, but with a different actor in Christopher Lloyd’s part.
It’s like a long trailer, with the main theme used throughout, but does contain spoilers if you’ve not watched the main film (which any normal person would watch first!)
- Phone Box Comparison (1:11): More test footage from when the lead was 13, and the final version of the film, albeit in 16:9.
- Puppet Shoot (2:28): This piece shows how puppetry was used in the final scene, and that’s all I will say about it.
- Deleted Scenes (5:25): Five of them, here, but nothing that particularly needs to go back in.
- Lake Storyboarding (2:47): The storyboards for a key scene by the lake, set to a piece of the movie’s theme.
- Toby Froud Monster designs (1:09): The early designs for the monster in sketch and clay form.
The menu mixes a mostly static menu with a segment of the theme, there are a bog-standard 16 chapters and, as mentioned earlier, there are no subtitles.
Running time: 104 minutes
Studio: Spirit Entertainment
Released: February 20th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, Norwegian, Russian
Widescreen: 1.66:1 (Super 16)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Billy O’Brien
Producers: James Harris, Mark Lane and Nick Ryan
Screenplay: Billy O’Brien and Christopher Hyde
Music: Adrian Johnston
John Wayne Cleaver: Max Records
Crowley: Christopher Lloyd
April: Laura Fraser
Dr. Neblin: Karl Geary
Minister: Bruce Bohne
Ron the Coroner: Tony Papenfuss
The Drifter: Matt Roy
Brooke Watson: Lucy Lawton
Brooke’s Friend: Morgan Rysso
Brooke’s Friend: Emmylou Barden
Classmate / Partygoer: Molly Gearen
Margaret: Christina Baldwin
The Monster: William Todd-Jones
Principal Layton: James Gaulke
Lauren Bacall Cleaver: Anna Sundberg
Angry Mob: Ryan J Gilmer
Max: Raymond Brandstrom
Olson the Barber: Tim Russell
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.