I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes

I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)



Critic Consensus: I Am Not A Serial Killer honors the book it's based on with a well-acted drama that leavens its gore and dark themes with wry humor.

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Movie Info

Sixteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver (Max Records, Where the Wild Things Are) is not a serial killer-but he has all the makings of one. Keeping his homicidal tendencies and morbid obsessions with death and murder in check is a constant struggle that only gets harder when a real serial killer begins terrorizing his sleepy Midwestern town. Now, in order to track down a psychopath and protect those around him, John must unleash his darkest inner demons. Based on the cult novel by Dan Wells, this twisted, genre-bending thriller co-stars Christopher Lloyd and Breaking Bad's Laura Fraser.

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Max Records
as John Wayne Cleaver
Karl Geary
as Dr. Neblin
James Gaulke
as Principal Layton
Tony Papenfuss
as Ron the Coroner
Bruce Bohne
as Minister
Matt Roy
as The Drifter
Ryan J. Gilmer
as Angry Mob
Molly Gearen
as Classmate / Partygoer
William Todd Jones
as The Monster
Morgan Rysso
as Brooke's Friend
Lucy Lawton
as Brooke Watson
Emmylou Barden
as Brooke's Friend
Tim Russell
as Olson the Barber
Dee Noah
as Kay Crowley
Michael Paul Levin
as Roger Bowen
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Critic Reviews for I Am Not a Serial Killer

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (10)

I Am Not a Serial Killer is Dostoevsky in Minnesota. Spiritually if not literally.

December 27, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Enjoyably gory and wry.

December 13, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A pleasingly macabre study of a mixed-up teen who could be a Dexter-in-waiting.

December 8, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

There's a touch of 'Stranger Things' about this lo-fi indie horror.

December 6, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Intriguing if not groundbreaking.

September 30, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

The arbitrary value of life in I Am Not a Serial Killer makes its nature as an ostensibly character-driven mystery that much harder to swallow.

August 26, 2016 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for I Am Not a Serial Killer


This was a surprise and I did not expect the film that this became. The lead character started out as a character from the pages of Dexter but that soon turned when a serial killer starts taking victims in the town. I had only read the synopsis and expected a very dark character study, what I watched was a film that deserves a cult following. Everything is thrown out the door in the first 40 minutes and this film becomes something different and very interesting. I have discovered the film is based from a book and I hope we get to see a couple more of these films because this world has just begun and another film woukd not seem unwelcome. Lloyd is simply incredible and showcases the large range of talents he can reveal. If you find yourself flipping through and see this film, give it a chance as you won't be disappointed. 03-07-2017.

Brendan O'Connor
Brendan O'Connor

Super Reviewer


How many of you like surprises? I'm certain that a lot of you enjoy them. At least if they're, obviously, good surprises. Like you won one of those Publisher's Clearing House things where you get $5000 a week for the rest of your life. I don't think you would enjoy a surprise where you got crabs or some other venereal diseases. Those things can go fuck off, am I right? Anyway, the point is that there are times when I go into a movie with, literally, zero expectations and I come away really pleasantly surprised. Which is why I'm saddened to say that this movie wasn't one of those. Just kidding. If I'm being honest, I was not familiar at all with this movie, or the book that it's based on. But I was intrigued by the description on Netflix, so I decided to give this a film a shot without really knowing what to expect. And what I got was quite surprising, even from what I expected from having read the film's description. I was expecting more of a thriller, with some dark comedy to help lighten the film's tone. But, if we're looking at the movie objectively and what it all ends up being about, it's actually a really thoughtful and, honestly, kind of sweet love story. Yes, I know what might be weird for someone who hasn't watched the movie, or read the book, but love is at the core of the villain's motivations for his actions. But that's much, much later in the story. The film starts off fairly simply, it looks at this teen, who has sociopathic tendencies, who has this series of rules, since he feels that he is destined to become a serial killer, to keep himself and, more importantly, others, from harm. His tendencies aren't helped by the fact that he works in his mother's mortuary, where he has access to dead bodies that he helps embalm with his mother, and aunt. John, the teen in question, lives in this small town where a series of killings start occurring. John, having such dark tendencies of his own, takes an increased interest in the killings, especially when specific body parts are removed from each body. Sometimes a liver is taken, sometimes a lung is taken, sometimes a leg, so on and so forth. John is drawn even further in to this mystery when he finds out that the serial killer is, in fact, his neighbor Mr. Crowley, played by Christopher Lloyd. But, and it's not as simple as that, it's revealed that Crowley is, in fact, some type of monster who has taken over the body of this missing man from Arizona and taken over his entire life. He's built a life with his wife, whom he loves very much. I thought the fact that the monster inhabits the body of such an old man to be, actually, a really cool idea, because you get to see how fragile Mr. Crowley really is as an old man, yet you also get to see the monstrosity he truly is. So I really liked they used those elements to show you how weak he really is, but how strong he can actually be when he wants to turn into a monster. It's really well-done. The body parts are taken so he can replace them. The leg he took from a victim was so he could dance with his wife for a longer time and the lungs/liver were so he could be healthier when she really needed him. So, yes, the reason Mr. Crowley is killing the people that he is killing, and taking their body parts, is so he can be healthy enough to spend the rest of his wife's natural life with her, as he had promised to never leave her side. So, really, in many ways, Mr. Crowley isn't really even that much of a villain as much as he is a man who's willing to do what it takes for the one he loves. Yes, he does incredibly awful things to his victims, but he's doing what he's doing for his wife. I may not be the only one who thinks this, but movies work best when you can, at the very least, understand the motivations of the villain. You're not necessarily justifying their actions, but you can see why they do what they do, no matter how wrong it may be. And this is one of those movies. I also very much enjoyed John's journey as a character in the movie. I'm not saying that he doesn't have sociopathic tendencies, because he does, but I think a big part of it is also the fact that he's at a certain age where he just hates everyone and everything. And even with that, John is still a strong and likable character, because you do get to see how he grows as a person throughout the film. You could say that this is also, very much, a coming-of-age film. Not a conventional one, at least, but it has some elements of that as John definitely matures in his journey to expose Mr. Crowley and what he is. The movie does have its unanswered questions, like what exactly is the monster that took over Crowley's body or where it comes from. But, realistically speaking, the movie isn't at any point about the origin of the monster. It never even comes close to touching that subject matter, so I don't think it should be held against the movie that they left those unanswered questions. The acting is also strong. Christopher Lloyd is excellent in this movie, but Max Records, who I last saw in The Sitter in 2011, is also quite good. He certainly encapsulates that angry teen vibe perfectly, but he's never unlikable, which is a balance that most other people his age would not be able to achieve. So, yea, I really fucking enjoyed this movie quite a bit. It's a little quieter than your typical horror movie, but it's a damn good movie with a really strong story and great acting. I would easily recommend this. This movie is worth giving a shot to.

Jesse Ortega
Jesse Ortega

Super Reviewer

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