Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Movie Impressions: I Am Not a Serial Killer

Posted by Rampant Coyote on September 12, 2016

i_am_not_a_serial_killerIt’s scary movie season at the Barnson household. It’s been tougher in recent years to pack in the scary movies in October, because we’re so busy that month. My wife is a professional storyteller who specializes in ghost stories, and was a tour guide for the Salt Lake City Ghost Tours for a couple of years, so that means she’s rarely around for weekends. And me… well, with both writing and game development these days, dedicating time to a movie is something of an event. To compensate, the whole Halloween movie season now begin in September for us. Which is TOTALLY FINE by me!

We prefer movies that are spooky and creepy over films that are gory and bloody. We’re not particularly fond of gross-out movies or “torture porn.” Supernatural thrillers beat out realistic psychos. More Twilight Zone, less Saw (a LOT less Saw). Still, a really good movie is a really good movie. Our favorite from last year was probably The Babadook, which was part horror movie, part metaphor.

This year, we have only barely started, but we may have already found our favorite of the year. Friday night, we attended a limited theatrical presentation of the indie horror movie I Am Not a Serial Killer, based on the best-selling novel (and series) by Dan Wells, starring Christoper Lloyd and Max Records.

I’ve never read the book, so I came into the movie pretty cold, deliberately avoiding spoilers. The last few minutes before the movie started, I had to be extra careful, because the theater was packed with fans, friends, and even family of Dan Wells… plus the man himself, who had a Q&A session at the end of the film. I don’t think we were the only ones in the theater who didn’t know what to expect, but we were definitely in the minority.

Honestly, I didn’t even know if “starring” Christopher Lloyd was more of a marketing thing for for a cameo appearance, or if he legitimately played a major role. (It’s the real-deal… while Records plays the protagonist, Lloyd is very much a co-star.)

The story is about a young sociopath named John Cleaver. His family runs the town mortuary. He is obsessed with serial killers, but he and his therapist have set up a strict set of rules he follows to prevent him from becoming one himself.  Then his small town is terrorized by a rash of brutal murders. John is fascinated by them, but also views them with clinical analysis stemming from his lack of empathy, and may be the only one capable of stopping them. But doing so may require him to break his all-important rules…

It’s pretty amazing how well the movie (and, I’m told, the book) turns a sociopath into a sympathetic character, without compromising the realities of his disorder. I never quite trusted him, and his reactions were always (believably) off, but he was still likeable. He’s an interesting character, and is capable of doing some pretty ruthless-but-possibly-necessary things.

A good horror movie is a good movie first and foremost, and I Am Not a Serial Character is that. It’s about family relationships, mental disorder, and … yes, horror. The performances were top-notch, but both Max Records and Christopher Lloyd were amazing. I mean, you expect that our of Lloyd, but wow!

The film is currently unrated. I expect it would warrant an R rating based on the blood and internal organs (although they are usually in the clinical setting of the mortuary), and some pretty scary violence. Language and sexual content is really pretty tame.

My wife and I continued to talk about the movie all the way home. It was a good, character-driven, creepy film that left us thinking about it. I want to see it again. Actually, I want to read the book series, now. But if you haven’t… jump right in and watch the movie. While seeing it in the theaters might be a challenge with it being a small indie film, it’s now available for streaming on Amazon.com, YouTube, and iTunes (I think), and will probably be released on DVD / Blu-ray in the not-too-distant future.

So… if you are looking for a good show for the Halloween season… I recommend it.


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