Not often do you get to see legendary actor Christopher Lloyd play in a horror movie. We get this opportunity in “I Am Not a Serial Killer” which made its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival.
John (Max Records; “Where the Wild Things Are”, “The Sitter”) isn’t like most teenagers. Obsessed by serial killers and anything morbid, he has a passion for the macabre. I suppose it doesn’t help that he assists his mother in her work during autopsies at the morgue. Despite generously aiding his elderly next door neighbor (Christopher Lloyd; “Return to the Future” series; “Addams Family Values”, “Piranha 3D”) in everyday matters, he is also the type of peculiar individual who, matter-of-factly, responds to his high school bully that he wouldn’t mind chopping him open like a cardboard box, claiming that he seems him like nothing more than an irrelevant object. His therapist has even diagnosed him as being a sociopath. So when odd murder victims begin popping up around his own town, his curiosity evidently takes over as he searches for this serial killer. However, just like John isn’t any ordinary teenager, these murders are not from any ordinary killer.
“Slow-burning mystery” would be the best description to qualify “I Am Not a Serial Killer”. It doesn’t take long before it is revealed who is committing these gruesome acts. Nonetheless, we are witnesses to one of these murders, and it is obvious that this individual perhaps is more of a creature than a human being. But what is it? This isn’t a typical “who is the killer?”, but “what is the killer?”
The film is also very character-driven, as we learn to appreciate John’s deviant ways, despite some alarming signs that he could turn out to be quite dangerous if he continues down this path. We also get quite attached to the sweet neighbor portrayed by Christopher Lloyd who loves his wife dearly and shows it every chance he gets. Even with the gaping age difference, the friendship and chemistry between John and his elderly companion seem genuine. The murder scenes are also very interesting and the special effects are decent-looking.
The plot is well developed, but there are some unanswered questions that remain after the viewing of the film, without giving away any spoilers. There are also some long lulls in the middle of the movie, even though, as mentioned above, it should be considered as a slow-burning, character-driven mystery film. There are moments when you may disconnect from the story-telling due to a lack of any type of excitement.
Nonetheless, “I Am Not a Serial Killer” is a more-than-decent motion picture that should be viewed by everyone who enjoys an unhurried-pace, character-focused film. I attribute to it 3.5 stars out of 5.