I Am Not A Serial Killer

There’s the faintest echo of Donnie Darko in this blackly comic adaptation of a YA novel, given that its protagonist is a smalltown/suburban high school misfit who fixates on mortality – plus it shares an animal mask as a recurring motif – though Billy O’Brien’s film definitely ploughs its own peculiar furrow. It smartly sets up its main character (John Wayne Cleaver, played by Max Records) as a potential murderer during the first act: on top of the playful is-he-or-isn’t-he?-ness of the film’s title, we discover that Cleaver has an obsession with death, murder, notorious killers and the intricate details of their cases (for which he is seeing a shrink), there’s an unusual family business (his mother is a mortician) and of course there’s the small matter of the teenager’s name, which brings to mind a certain John Wayne Gacy as well as questions related to nominative determinism. I Am Not A Serial Killer then moves in a different, unexpected direction, and without wishing to spoilt it for anyone I’ll just say I found it enjoyable and it affords a nice, late-career opportunity for Christopher Lloyd to shine as a result. I liked the film’s commitment to a strand of darkness that’ll likely keep its audience small, and it’s a bit of an oddball, unpredictable affair, much like its fascinating teen antihero. One of the more interesting and arch YA novel adaptations that I’ve seen, with cult potential; I hope to see more made. (***½)