Do you ever feel like watching a bad movie? A movie that you can follow without paying too much attention to, one you can laugh at (whether you should or shouldn’t)? The horror-thriller and possibly unintentional comedy I Am Not a Serial Killer, based on the novel of the same name by Dan Wells, may be the movie for you.
I Am Not a Serial Killer, directed by Billy O’Brien and screenplay by Christopher Hyde, had a budget of 1.45 million. And it kind of shows near the end. I guess they spent all the money on snow, the realistic hollowed-out human torso and the human organs. The movie is currently on Netflix.
Don’t dive into this movie without thinking about it. Before you watch, do something that will make it easier on you.
Before you watch this movie, lower your expectations. Then lower them again. In your mind, you should see something the Lifetime Movie Channel would produce; that’s what I was expecting. In the end, I got something a little better in some ways, but in other ways, upsettingly similar.
We follow John Wayne Cleaver (yes, John Wayne like John Wayne Gacy and Cleaver like the knife, I’m cringing too), played by Max Records. John looks like Joseph Gordon Levitt and Kristin Stewart’s lovechild.
It’s quickly apparent that John is to be the edgelord we never really needed. He’s a mortician’s son who thinks it’s cool to be labeled a sociopath by his therapist and has to follow “strict rules” to keep from killing people.
John is allowed to help his mother in the morgue where she thinks he can get out his murderous tendencies by helping her embalm bodies. They get a murder victim and therein lays the inciting incident in the hollowed out torso of the victim: the liver is missing. When the next victim is on the slab, a different organ is gone. Another victim misses an arm.
Someone, or something, is stealing the body parts. But why? John starts a crusade to find out.
As all this goes on, John helps out his elderly neighbor, Mr. Crowley, played by Christopher Lloyd, and stalks a girl he thinks he may like. It’s hard to tell because he just hovers outside her dining room window sometimes, watching her and her family eat dinner from a vantage point where they could easily see him peering through the very thin curtain.
The movie is funny, and it intends to be funny for the most part. But towards the end, it does something it shouldn’t have. It took itself seriously and tried to deliver a ham-fisted lesson to John that he and the audience already knew.
The last 30 or so minutes of the film slows down which is unfortunate as the beginning of the movie is decently paced, though perhaps a little too quick.
The biggest issue is the ending. The rest of the movie is laughable and, I think, fun to watch. The ending is just…bad. It’s cliché in the worst way possible. Once again, “love” is used as a way to defeat the villain but this time it just feels out of place.
The lesson that we’re supposed to learn about John is something already clearly established in the movie.
The downfall of the villain was played to be so touching and mildly heartbreaking, but it didn’t fit the rest of the movie. This is a movie about a sociopathic teenager with a penchant for looking into houses he shouldn’t and for making vague threats to bullies for Pete’s sake. John’s awkward banter with people is funny by itself.
To have the villain fall the way they did was out of place, especially since moments later, the film is back to being funny again. However, by the time it gets to that last minute before the credits, the magic the rest of the film had is gone. Nothing is funny anymore and I’m wondering if I made a mistake in choosing movies.
Acting wise, everyone was what you would expect, some a little better than others. Christopher Lloyd, who is getting along in age, bless his heart, was very hard to understand in most of the movie and I had to turn on subtitles.
Was this a bad movie? Sure, but it was fun for the majority. It is a movie prime for popcorn munching and for watching in groups. It only becomes a truly bad movie in the final stretch of the last act.