I Am Not a Serial Killer (film)

I Am Not a Serial Killer is a 2016 supernatural psychological horror film directed by Billy O'Brien and based on Dan Wells' 2009 novel of the same name. It stars Christopher Lloyd, Max Records, Laura Fraser, and Christina Baldwin.

I Am Not a Serial Killer
I Am Not a Serial Killer.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBilly O'Brien
Produced by
Written by
  • Christopher Hyde
  • Billy O'Brien
Based onI Am Not a Serial Killer
by Dan Wells
Music byAdrian Johnston
CinematographyRobbie Ryan
Edited byNick Emerson
Distributed byIFC Midnight
Release date
  • 13 March 2016 (2016-03-13) (SXSW)
  • 26 August 2016 (2016-08-26) (United States)
Running time
103 minutes[1]
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
Budget$1.45 million

Shooting began in Virginia, Minnesota, on 28 February 2015. It premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on 13 March 2016, and received limited theatrical and video on demand release on 26 August.[2]


John Wayne Cleaver, a teenager in a small Midwestern town, has been diagnosed as a sociopath and suffers homicidal impulses. These are exacerbated by working at his mother April's funeral home. He controls his urges with rules, mental stopgaps, and speaking to his therapist Grant. At the scene of a murder, John sees a puddle of black oil. After an identical murder, talk of a serial killer piques John's interest. While out trick-or-treating with his friend Max, John spots a drifter lurking outside his neighbor Bill Crowley's house. At the high-school Halloween dance, John scares off a bully by threatening to kill him.

After discussing this with Grant, John sees the drifter join Crowley on an ice fishing trip, and John follows them. As the drifter is about to attack Crowley, Crowley suddenly kills the man with his bare hand, which morphs into a branch-like shape. Crowley cuts out his own lungs and replaces them with the man's. John creates a serial killer profile, noting every victim had organs removed. While following Crowley and his wife, Kay, on their date night, he comes across his mother and Grant having dinner, upsetting John. John studies fairytales and mystic folklore, and the police connect the recent murders to a missing person named Emmett Openshaw.

John follows Crowley to a barbershop owned by Greg, a man who danced with Kay the previous night because Crowley was limping. After seeing Crowley attack Greg, John impulsively sets off the barbershop's alarm, drawing two police officers, who Crowley kills. Afterward, Crowley no longer limps and appears to be rejuvenated. Before leaving, Crowley nonchalantly answers a phone call from Kay. John sees a puddle of black oil and realizes it was Crowley's old leg, which he swapped with Greg's.

After leaving Crowley an anonymous note revealing his knowledge, John overhears Kay say Crowley has been housebound for a week. As John visits Crowley at Kay's request, Crowley recites and explains William Blake's poems "The Lamb" and "The Tyger". John continues to profile Crowley, who grows weaker. On Christmas Eve, John calls Crowley from a pay phone to ask about the process and what he stole from Openshaw. Crowley gives vague answers, and John realizes Crowley was stalling. Seeing Crowley's car, John flees to Max's house. After John reveals their friendship was merely a coping mechanism, Max throws out John. John stumbles upon Crowley killing Max's father; John, wearing a ski mask, fails to stop Crowley and flees.

After Max's father's memorial, April tries to connect with John, who threatens her life when she pushes him. After a conversation with Grant, John waits until Crowley leaves the house and tries to scare him away by threatening what he loves most: Kay. When John believes he has unintentionally killed Kay, he panics and calls Grant. After seeing she is still alive, John leaves the house as Crowley arrives. In Crowley's car, he finds Grant's intact body, which he hides. The next morning, Crowley realizes John has taken the body. At Max's father's funeral, Crowley reveals Grant had been out looking for John. John says Crowley will not try anything in public and observes that Crowley's heart will not last much longer.

After the funeral, John realizes his mother did not leave; he finds her unconscious on the embalming table beside Crowley, who demands John return Grant's body. John pretends to agree but knocks out Crowley. After April regains consciousness, they hook Crowley up to the embalming device. When Crowley wakes, the lights flicker, and a large, black, oily monster slides out of his body. Realizing he can no longer be with Kay, he asks John to watch over her and commits suicide. Both Crowley and the monster's corpses melt into black oil. Afterwards, the police find Grant's body, and Crowley is reported missing. John comforts Kay, who tells him the story of how she and Bill fell in love, making John realize he must find happiness, too. John and his mother later have a casual conversation as they embalm Grant's body.


  • Christopher Lloyd[3] as Bill Crowley
  • Max Records[3] as John Wayne Cleaver
  • Laura Fraser[3] as April Cleaver
  • Tim Russell[4] as Greg Olson the barber
  • Christina Baldwin as Aunt Margaret
  • Karl Geary as Dr. Grant Neblin
  • Anna Sundberg as Lauren Bacall Cleaver
  • Lucy Lawton as Brooke [5]
  • Raymond Branstrom as Max Bowen[5]
  • Dee Noah as Kay Crowley
  • Michael Paul Levin as Roger Bowen
  • Jim Gaulke as Principal Layton


Author Dan Wells' novel I Am Not a Serial Killer was first released in 2009 and in the United States in 2010.[4][6] Irish writer and director Billy O'Brien, who had previously written and directed the 2006 horror film Isolation, adapted the novel for the screen with co-writer Christopher Hyde, and was intending to shoot the film on 16 mm film.[4][7] Robbie Ryan worked on the film as a producer as well as director of photography.[8] Other producers include O'Brien, Nick Ryan, James Harris, and Mark Lane.[3] Toby Froud served as a creature designer,[7] with William Todd-Jones being the creature movement consultant. Jennifer Klide served as production designer. The Irish Egg Post Production performing postproduction work for the film.[3]

Funding for I Am Not a Serial Killer was provided by the Irish Film Board, The Fyzz Facility, and Quickfire Films. The English firm Independent will manage international sales of the film.[3] Its budget totals around $1.45 million.[4]

Principal photography began in the US state of Minnesota on February 28, 2015.[3] Centered in the town of Virginia on the Mesabi Iron Range, the film's producers had hoped to shoot somewhere in the North and ultimately chose the area—despite the book's setting of North Dakota—in part because of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board. Through its Film Production Incentive program, the Board can reimburse almost $93,000 of eligible production costs.[4] Michigan and Ohio were also considered as filming locations.[9] Local extras were utilized as part of the shoot, which concluded on March 20 before the production team moved to other cities in Minnesota including Saint Paul and Golden Valley to film several scenes set during the autumn.[4][10]


I Am Not a Serial Killer premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival on March 13, 2016.[2] The movie received simultaneous limited theatrical and video on demand releases on August 26.[11] It won the Méliès d’argent at the Festival du Film Fantastique de Strasbourg in 2016[12]

A trailer for the film was released on July 8.[11]


On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 93% based on 57 reviews, with a weighted average rating of 6.85/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "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."[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "I Am Not a Serial Killer (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 30 September 2016. Retrieved 30 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b Barker, Andr Jimew (29 March 2016). "Film Review: 'I Am Not a Serial Killer'". Variety. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Wiseman, Andreas (3 March 2015). "I Am Not A Serial Killer shoots in US". Screen Daily. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Riebe, Angie (2 March 2015). "Hollywood on Range". Mesabi Daily News. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b https://rogerebert.com/reviews/i-am-not-a-serial-killer-2016
  6. ^ "I Am Not A Serial Killer". Kirkus Reviews. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  7. ^ a b Gingold, Michael (3 March 2015). ""I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER" gets rolling with Christopher Lloyd et al". Fangoria. Archived from the original on 6 March 2015. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  8. ^ Brosnan, Seán (4 March 2015). "'I Am Not A Serial Killer' begins US shoot; directed by Billy O Brien, produced by Robbie Ryan". Irish Film and Television Network. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  9. ^ Lawler, Christa (19 March 2015). "Christopher Lloyd, other actors, crew descend on Virginia to film scenes for indie thriller". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  10. ^ Colorado, Melissa (11 May 2015). "Behind the scenes of the movie industry in Minnesota". KARE. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b Upadhyaya, Kayla Kumari (8 July 2016). "The trailer for I Am Not A Serial Killer is predictably dark and mysterious". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 8 July 2016.
  12. ^ url=http://strasbourgfestival.com/palmares-2016/"
  13. ^ "I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 14 May 2020.

External linksEdit