I’ve seen it! And it’s awesome.
The I Am Not a Serial Killer movie debuted last night–the world premiere–in the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas. Let’s take a minute to bask in its greatness, and to answer the question that’s burning up every social media outlet I have: how can YOU see the movie?
First, a review. Keep in mind that I am maybe somewhat kind of slightly biased, so it’s hard for me to be objective, but I’m confident calling it the greatest movie that has ever been made by human hands. Let’s hit some key points one by one:
-John is great. He’s fantastic. Max Records does such an amazing job bringing him to life, with that same blend of likeable and creepy that people love so much in the book. This despite the fact that:
-There is no voiceover. I know a lot of people wondered about that. So much of the book takes place inside his mind, with his direct narration, and the movie replaces most of that with simply a very emotive actor. You don’t get words, but you get his face, and it works wonderfully.
-The other actors are all great as well. Christopher Lloyd is every bit as sympathetic and terrifying as he needs to be–maybe even more so. Laura Fraser, as John’s mom, hits it out of the park: she walks this amazing line between being a shrew (which is how John sees her) and being a concerned mother who’s in way over her head (which is what she really is). Just like in the book, you’ll start off not liking her, and then by the end you’ll love her, and you’ll see that she’ll do anything for her son. And everyone else is so good, too–Margaret, Lauren, Kay, Neblin, Max, Brooke. They’re not huge roles but they’re vital roles, and even in their limited screen time you get a perfect sense of who they are, and how they relate to each other, and what they mean. I can’t even pick a favorite, though I can tell you you’re going to fall in love with Brooke.
-The story has changed in the adaptation. Obviously–that’s how adaptations are. But it works. There’s one sequence in particular, with a dance and a barber, that feels so perfectly a part of the story that I almost feel bad I didn’t write it first. Even more importantly:
-The ending is slightly different. When I read the final version of the script, and saw the new ending, I wrote Billy (the director) a massive, 12-page essay on why the ending didn’t work as written, and why he needed to go back to my version of it–or at least preserve some certain key timing elements. He stuck to his guns and kept his ending, and now that I’ve seen the movie I can assure that this ending totally sold me. It’s exactly the ending that the film version needed. I’m trying to be vague here, so let me assure without spoiling any specifics that the same things all still happen, they just happen in slightly different ways. If, by some beautiful miracle, we get to make more movies, they’ll all still track perfectly with the plot of this one. Which is a great segue into:
-Will there be more movies? If this one is successful and makes money, yes that possibility exists. Even if this movie is successful, I don’t see it as super likely, but I guess we’ll see. That’s way in the future for now, though, so keep it way on your mental back burner.
-What is the movie rated? This is a really common question. It hasn’t been rated yet, and won’t be until it gets a theater release (knock on wood), but I can assure you that the movie I saw is pure PG-13. No sex or nudity, very little language, and all of the violence happens off screen or way in the distance. There is gore, but nothing they don’t show every week on CSI.
-And now for the big question: when will it be in theaters? That all depends. We are an independent movie, which among other things means that we do not have a distributor capable of putting it into theaters. That’s why we’re here at SXSW–to show it off, build some buzz, and get a big studio with a big distributor interested in picking us up. If that happens, either here or at a future festival, then the movie could potentially be in theaters as early as next year. It would go to streaming services and DVD sometime after that. Yes, this means that you might have to wait a VERY long time to see it, and I’m sorry. Such is the glacial pace of filmmaking.
-What about smaller or limited screenings? As much as I’d love to show it around, I cannot guarantee that anything like this will happen. Yes, I know you’re willing to pay for it, and yes, I know that we could absolutely fill a theater in, say, my hometown of Salt Lake City. Those things are true but don’t matter, as harsh as that sounds. Up until we have a distributor, the movie needs to stay exclusive to festivals, because that exclusivity is what’s going to attract more festivals to show it, and festivals are pretty much the only way we’ll ever get picked up by a studio. Sorry. It breaks my heart, too. Like I said, though: you’ll get to see it eventually, just not soon.
-What about fans outside of the US and UK? When do my beloved readers in Germany and Argentina and Mexico and everywhere else get to see it? The answer is more or less the same: as soon as a distributor picks it up, and decides to subtitle or dub it for your market. I don’t have control over any of that, as much as I wish I did. Once it hits streaming and DVD–which is essentially guaranteed, even if we never get a theater release–you’ll have access to the English version, but a translation might be harder to come by.
-What can you do to help? Unless you’re a Hollywood executive, not much. Talk about the book and share it with others. Buy copies for all your friends–that creates more buzz, and the sales raise the profile for the money people who’ll be making the final decision. None of that is likely to have a huge effect, but I guess you never know. And I’m not going to complain
So: there you have it. It’s done, and I love it, and now we get to walk on eggshells for a while hoping somebody rich loves it just as much. I’ve tried to anticipate most of the important things you probably have questions about, but if you still have questions feel free to ask them below, and I’ll pop back in over the next few days to answer them.