"I'm not afraid of getting caught. I'm afraid of them making me stop."
There were 506 murders committed in Chicago, Illinois last year. Only 129 were solved.
This is the world of Charles Lake (Mike Nall), a monster who is simultaneously no one an everyone.
I Am No One, a film by indie director Jason Hoover, takes viewers inside the chaotic life of a killer who is, at times, seemingly as normal as you and I, though I suppose it's worth noting that I'm not exactly normal.
Maybe that's the point?
Lake opens up to Hoover, or at least Hoover's camera, revealing both the normalcy and the chaos that constructs the life of Charles Lake. You don't know him, but he may very well be watching you.
During the day? Lake seems edgy, perhaps, but relatively normal. Of course, it may be a bit frightening that he even seems relatively "normal," whatever the hell that really means, when his dark side comes out at night and the facade, is put away as the camera follows Lake as he stalks his prey and stands over his victims as they lay dying.
It's normal, but how can something like this be normal?
Lake provides insights, rather matter-of-factly, about how and why he's a monster. Oh, and he is a monster. He's just kind of a familiar monster. He's not the monster that you watch on the big screen or on Law & Order: SVU. He's not wearing a hockey mask or carrying a chainsaw. He's no one, really.
Isn't that what's really scary?
I Am No One doesn't flinch. It doesn't move, really. It follows Lake as much as he will allow, sometimes with an eerie intimacy and other times with the great distance that he demands.
The camera still follows. It follows in light. It follows in darkness. It follows during conversation. It follows during complete silence. It follows during warm, almost sentimental, reminiscing. It follows during the kill.
It always follows. It's a lot like Lake himself. You may not know him, but he's always there.
The word "mockumentary," while used on IMDB to describe I Am No One, doesn't come close to being accurate. There's no mocking or mimicking or silly little games.
I Am No One is darker, because it needs to be dark. It doesn't flinch, because so many times if you flinch in life you die. I Am No One "gets" the world that Charles Lake lives in because it's a familiar world that you and I have created and we live in it every single day. We may not be the serial killers, but they are among us.
I can still remember a time many years ago when I was laying in my bed. My home health aide looked down at me, naked and vulnerable as are most people with disabilities who depend upon the kindness of strangers to survive, and said to me "I raped you because I could."
Then, they left.
Most people aren't kind. Hell, most people aren't monsters. Most people are some fucked up, twisted together version of kindness meets killer, normal meets psychotic. They'll rape you because they can.
It's simultaneously horrifying yet strangely matter-of-fact.
This is the world of I Am No One, a world that Hoover captures beautifully. The film is shot on location in the streets of Chicago, a city that is simultaneously really normal and really fucked up. It's a world where someone might help you. They might kill you. Who knows what they might do?
As Charles Lake, Mike Nall is so extraordinary it kind of makes me not want to meet Mike Nall. It kind of makes me grateful he doesn't work as a home health aide.
The film's lensing is occasionally a lot like home videos you shoot while on vacation. Occasionally, it's not. Occasionally, it's more intimate or more jarring or more disturbing.
Mostly, it's just kind of normal.
If you're an indie horror fan, then I can assure you this is your thing. You sick fuck. But yeah, this is your thing. It's available now from the terrific folks at ToeTag on a killer 2-disc set. Don't worry. You'll probably survive it.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic