Reminiscent of the work of Cronenberg, particularly his pre- 2000's era, I Am Not a Serial Killer was a much better watch than I had expected.
As some have pointed out, it is a slow burner, but I think that's necessary to give us insight and character development. At it's core, IANASK is a character study of our protagonist, John Cleaver.
Is John Cleaver destined to be a serial killer? Is he a sociopath? Is he good, is he evil?
These are the questions we find ourselves asking time and time again throughout the film as his words and actions contradict themselves and each other over and over.
John Cleaver is a teenager and with all of the issues that face any normal teenager he also has to deal with some extremely difficult and strange problems. He is misunderstood, he doesn't know how to express himself, he is unsure of his feelings and his identity.
If this movie had been gutted of the sci-fi aspect I am perfectly confident that this would have been a wonderful quality drama focusing on John's school and home life and how he deals with his father's absence and his homicidal ideations.
That being said, I think the film works just fine as it is- really much better than it sounds on paper.
IANASK has an organic feel in it's material that is hard to find and much sought after by many cinephiles, and that is the artistic vision of its creator.
Not having seen any of O'Brien's other films I can't tell you if this elusive vision is that of the director or moreso of the source material, the novel by Dan Wells that it was based on; or, of course, a perfect marriage of the two.
What I can tell you is that this film is not only fresh and interesting in way of the story but also the cinematography, shot beautifully on 16mm film, which gives the film a much more stately and artistic feel than this sort of material would have easily afforded shot digitally with the increasingly common voyeuristic hand-held style.
All in all IANASK is a perfect example of modern film that still has heart, soul, and style; and as such it is a breath of fresh air in today's Hollywood climate.