I am not a film reviewer ... but I like seeing Virginia on film
It's not everyday that a movie is filmed almost entirely in your hometown.
And technically, this one isn't exactly, because I grew up in Gilbert. But "I Am Not a Serial Killer," filmed in Virginia, Minn., is probably as close as I will ever get.
Virginia is about five minutes away from my parents' house. It is the place where we would go to get anything necessary, especially groceries. It is the "town" referred to when Dad would say, "I'm going to run to town, need anything?"
Everyone in my immediate family was born in the Virginia hospital. It's the city my where Dad grew up and met my mom. It's where my sister has lived with her husband for the past three years. It's where I first went to college and took my driver's test and where I still visit whenever I head up north.
So I found it a little strange when I heard that it was going to be the setting for a film about a serial killer. Or, rather "not a serial killer." For the month or so it was in production in 2015, I followed any news story about Christopher Lloyd sightings and everyday encounters with the filmmakers. I watched the trailer online. But I was still apprehensive about seeing it. I'm not much of a horror film fan. As interested as I was in seeing familiar places on film, I was worried the real setting would make me nervous next time I visited my sister.
Then I found out my aunt, Betty Pond, and her husband, Randy, were extras for a dancing scene in the Virginia VFW. That settled it. I had to see the movie, if only for that scene.
I planned to go to the Zinema 2 to see it this past weekend, but I couldn't find a time that fit in my schedule. Instead, I rented it on iTunes, reasoning with myself this was for the best because I could always turn it off for a bit if it got too scary. I watched it in one sitting and though the ending was a little graphic, I didn't squirm too much or need to stop watching.
I enjoyed watching all the scenes set outside in the town of "Clayton." The very first murder investigation scene takes place in an empty lot close to Canelake's, my favorite candy store. Next time I go to pick up a gift of hot air for my dad, I'll definitely remember this scene and check around for any dead bodies.
Throughout the film, there are several ominous shots of the silvery, gleaming Virginia steam plant. Which mostly just reminded me of my dad's favorite story about me. One day when I was 3 or 4 years old, he and I were heading "to town." As we entered Second Avenue, I noticed the clouds and the steam from the plant.
"OH!" I exclaimed. "That's where they come from!"
I thought I'd discovered the cloud factory.
When the VFW dance hall scene came along, I had to pause and rewind several times to soak in the images of Aunt Betty and Randy dancing past the camera. I could find her in an instant. She looked so happy.
The plot itself was interesting and unique, with enough suspense to keep me interested. The run-time was a bit long but it meant more scenes in Virginia, so I was happy with it. I hope we see more movies set around the area in the future, because this was fun.
One final note: I especially appreciated the fact that although the film was made in Minnesota, no one had a stereotypical "Fargo" accent.