I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
For a non-American director, Billy OBrien does a fantastic job in the portrayal of small nowhere town America (in actuality Minnesota) the banality of life and especially the layout of the town as it becomes covered in snow during the latter half of the film. The pace of the film is slow and laidback, absorbed in this smalltown world and teenager Max Records everyday problems. It becomes a jolt that makes you sit up amidst this when Max Records casually mentions to psychologist Karl Geary how he recognises traits of a serial killer in himself. Or the scene where he calmly compares bully Vincent Risso to no more than a cardboard box and says the only interesting thing about a cardboard box is when you cut it open. Not to mention the sheer novelty of the idea of a teenage serial killer trying to do good by a code shades of tvs Dexter (2006-13) then having to combat a far greater evil that he discovers.
The slowness and ordinariness of the lead-in makes the elements of horror seem completely outlandish when they enter the jolt that comes after Max Records follows Christopher Lloyd and the drifter as they go ice fishing on the frozen-over river, he watching in long shot as Lloyd abruptly turns, his arm transforms into a claw and he plunges it through the drifter. It has such a bolt out of the blue bizarreness to it that we initially doubt what we saw. There is the same a little later when Max Records follows Christopher Lloyd to the barber in what seems a perfectly ordinary, everyday setting before it becomes apparent that Lloyd is going to kill the barber, followed by the cops that come to investigate after Records sets off the alarm.
The most absorbing sections come during the latter half with Max Records skulking around watching and following Christopher Lloyd. As the cat and mouse game ensues, much of the scenes seem to take place in the middle of the night in the dead of winter, which gives the film an undeniable atmosphere. Some of the risks that Records takes in his game have you considerably on the edge of the seat. The script never details too much about exactly what the creature is but it does lead to an undeniably remarkable climax.
The performances in the film are all top-notch. Christopher Lloyds role comes as an about-face casting from all of the amiable eccentric comedic roles that we have seen him in. Indeed, much of the reason Lloyd seems to have been cast is that it is initially hard to adjust and see such a likeably cuddly figure as an unearthly monster. Up against Lloyd, Max Records, a few years earlier the young kid in Where the Wild Things Are (2009), does a great job in holding his own.
(Nominee for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Christopher Lloyd) at this sites Best of 2016 Awards).
(Screening Courtesy of the Rio Grind Festival)