Set in a small Midwestern town, within moments of entering in to this world there’s a distinctive atmosphere captured by director Billy O’Brien, evoking a certain teenage angst and isolation, and one that feels familiar too, as a similar sensation felt when listening to bands like Nirvana or Brian Jonestown Massacre. This sets the tone for what transpires, as an alternative, subversive thriller steeped in cinematic tradition.

Max Records plays John Wayne Cleaver, an introvert who works for the family business as a mortician. Surrounded by dead bodies every day, he harbours an unhealthy obsession with the notion of murder, and believes himself to have homicidal tendencies, diagnosed as a sociopath by his therapist (Karl Geary). Sharing a tempestuous relationship with his mother (Laura Fraser), he spends much time at his elderly neighbours house, tending to the unwell Crowley (Christopher Lloyd) in his spare time. Though naturally when a series of deaths occur in the neighbourhood and a psychopathic serial killer is on the loose, this intrigues the teenager, who takes it upon himself to uncover the identity of the perpetrator and study their craft, all while having to keep his own murderous fantasies at bay.

The opening act to this production makes for compelling viewing, thriving in the notion of simplicity, as a character drama of its core, of a teenager trying to make sense of the world, and his own warped and deranged imagination. But as the narrative progresses we lose sight of any such minimalism and it’s detrimental to the viewer’s investment in the story, particularly when we take a surrealistic turn. It may have helped to have kept the elusive nature of the killer for a more prolonged period of time as we discover who it is too early into proceedings. Though appreciating it’s imperative we see John observe the murderer, just holding back on the information a little longer, and thus increasing the suspense would have been beneficial. The one constant, however, is the curiosity of the protagonist, as he discusses, either to himself or his shrink, about the thoughts going on in his mind, making for a wonderfully self-aware character, and the film shadows his self-referential approach, to make for a mildly meta affair.

I Am Not A Serial Killer maintains a droll wit throughout, with uncomfortable laughs to be had right up until the bitter end, which is commendable given this film is a bleak, somewhat demented production, reflecting that of the character we embody. To ensure the melancholy is persistent while never losing sight of its tongue-in-cheek approach is what makes this film worth seeing, but a clumsily crafted final act may just prevent it living long in the memory.