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Bill Crowley, also known as the Clayton Killer, is a mysterious supernatural creature who serves as the main antagonist of the 2016 psychological horror movie I Am Not A Serial Killer. He was portrayed by Christopher Lloyd who also portrayed Judge Doom and Rasputin. In the novel that the film is based on, he also serves as the main antagonist, and his species is referred to as the Withered.
A mysterious tree-like organism with the ability to absorb the organs of other creatures, leaving a black oil behind, the creature that would eventually become known as Bill Crowley first took human form 40 years before the start of the film, by killing a young man named Emmett Openshaw and stealing his body, absorbing himself into it. Once inside the body, he fled the scene of the crime and took up the name Bill Crowley. After a few years, he met a woman named Kay and the pair began dating, since both were single and in their 30s, and in that day and age remaining single at that age was considered somewhat of a taboo.
After a few months, Crowley broke down in tears, realising that he had fallen completely in love with Kay. The pair lived a happy human life together for the next few decades. However, as Bill aged in his human form, his body began to develop more and more health problems, and by the time of the start of the story, he had severe issues with his legs, lungs, kidneys, stomach, and heart. As such, he began killing people and assimilating their organs into his body, desperate to stay alive for as long as Kay lived, so that she would never have to go through the pain of losing him.
At the start of the film, Bill’s health conditions had become breaking-point level, forcing him to kill and disembowel two people in quick succession, each time attracting major media attention, and becoming known to the press as The Clayton Killer.
Bill first appeared to the film’s protagonist John (a teenaged diagnosed sociopath) at the start of the film, with the pair being long-time neighbours and friends. He asked Bill how to take a selfie on his phone so that he could send Kay a picture of him blowing a kiss to her, to which John obliged. Unbeknownst to Bill, John had been psychologically profiling the Clayton Killer based upon the way in which he had been killing his victims, noting the organ removal in every case John and his friends later went trick-or-treating, though the road was extensively guarded by John’s friend Max’s dad due to his concern about the recent murders. A mysterious man was wandering around behind Bill and Kay’s house, attracting John’s attention. John later saw the man approach Crowley after seeing that Crowley intended to go ice fishing, and followed the pair at a distance on his bicycle while they took the car. The stranger cut a hole in the ice, then tried to attack Crowley, also being a serial killer himself. However, Crowley quickly released a branch-like tendril from his hand and used it to stab the man, before pulling out his lungs. Crowley then tore open his own chest and replaced his own lungs with those of the serial killer. Meanwhile, John watched from a safe distance, now becoming intensely curious to uncover Bill’s true nature.
Feeling more rejuvenated, Crowley took his wife on a date night to a ballroom dancing club, however he quickly found himself struggling to move due to the intense arthritis in his legs and was forced to retire, feeling immeasurably guilty as a result. His guilt increased when he saw how nimble his wife still was while their elderly (but still very capable) barber friend Greg took her for a dance. Later that week, Bill’s struggle to walk and his constant pain due to his body rejecting the organs he was putting into himself meant that he had become barely able to function, and John had to help carry him into his house and even help him get into the bath. John found no difficulty in keeping up the pretence, and placed a GPS device in Crowley’s car in order to rack his whereabouts every time he left to kill someone.
Some time later, Crowley, having recovered some strength, visited Greg’s barber shop for a trim, only to transform his hand into its wooden branchy form and use it to kill Greg in retaliation for his stealing of a dance from him with Kay. After John saw what happened, he called the police, and two officers arrived at the barber shop. Crowley quickly murdered both of the police officers before nonchalantly accepting a phone call from his wife. He then cut off his right own leg (which turned to black oil) and that of Greg, which he used as a replacement.
Soon after, John left an anonymous note on Bill’s car’s snow-covered windscreen stating “I know what you are.” John was horrified by the knowledge that someone out there had become aware of his true nature, and refused to leave the house afterwards, claiming to be housebound due to his variety of illnesses, and all the while weakening due to his body’s rejection of the different people’s organs. After discovering that Bill had been housebound from Kay, John visited his “friend”, who recited William Blake’s “Tyger Tyger” and “The Lamb” to him, before explaining their meanings (though he did so in a somewhat rasping voice that was difficult to fully understand).
On Christmas Eve, John gave Bill an anonymous phone call from a public telephone in which he told him that he was the one who stole placed the note and asked if it hurt. Crowley gave a series of vague and at times immensely threatening answers, all whilst driving towards the payphone to find John. John covered his face with his panda-design snow hat and fled before Crowley could reach and kill him. However, the weakened Crowley now desperately needed organs, and on Cristmas day he murdered Max’s father and disembowelled him. John (wearing the panda hat over his face) arrived too late to save Max’s father, and fled the scene.
Crowley and Kay then visited a large group of people including Max’s family for an outdoor memorial, where John learned from Kay that Crowley had long had a heart condition which had been playing him up in recent days. Knowing that Crowley would have to go out in his car to kill someone and take a new heart, John waited until he saw Crowley leave one night, before breaking into his and Kay’s house and taking a picture of Kay with a phone he had bought, before sending the picture to Crowley, intending to threaten Crowley with killing Kay if he didn’t leave town. However, Kay woke up, and to hide his identity from her John was forced to cover her face with sheets, before knocking her unconscious with the alarm clock (which briefly caused John to think he had killed her, forcing him to call his psychotherapist Grant. After Grant talked John out of his panic and was suddenly cut off, John saw from his GPS that a terrified Bill had returned home to protect his wife, in full branch-monster form (not revealed yet due to how dark the room was).
Bill let out a roar as he found his injured wife while a masked John escaped their house. As John escaped, he discovered that Bill had murdered Grant after finding him out at night looking for John. Since Bill had yet to steal Grant’s heart, John decided to weaken him by taking away Grant’s body and secretly burying it in the woods.
However, Bill was now certain of John’s identity as her attacker and as his stalker, and began to watch John’s every move, causing the two to frequently stare at one another through their windows. Bill then directly confronted and threatened John at Max’s father’s funeral, intending to threaten John, only for John to mockingly point out that Bill couldn’t do anything to him in public. Crowley therefore waited for John the funeral to finish to confront John, only to be locked in the chapel by him (since the chapel was a part of John’s family’s funeral directors business), with John intending to leave Bill there to weaken to the point of death. However after leaving, John’s sister revealed to him that he had unintentionally locked their mother in the house along with Bill, who attacked her with a lamp and placed her on an operating table, intending to cut out her heart and use it as a replacement for his own.
When John found Crowley, the latter told him that he could only save his mother by giving him Grant’s body. John pretended to agree, only to knock Crowley unconscious while his mother awoke, horrified and confused by what was going on. In a state of shock upon realising that Crowley was the serial killer, John’s mother helped him to plug in the tubes to the unconscious Crowley’s bloodstream which would replace his blood with embalming fluid, as they would with a corpse, and kill him. Crowley’s blood was black and much thicker than that of a human, but the process was still successful, and Emmett Openshaw’s body (which Crowley had been using) died.
However, Crowley escaped his human body, tearing through it in his bestial true form. However, rather than attack John and his horrified mother, he held out his hand towards his foes, and took the spike they had planned to use to kill him with from them. Realising that he would never see his wife again without his human form, and that he had failed to always be there for her as he had promised, Crowley stabbed himself in the chest with the spike, committing suicide (though not before asking John and his mother to look after Kay).
Bill was a complex man, being genuinely friendly and considerate to everyone he knew when he didn't need to kill, and feeling true love for his wife Kay. However, his friendliness toward humans other than Kay did not amount to any level of actual attachment, since he found killing even long time friends and neighbors easy, and was remorseless after doing so.
Bill seemed to dislike the human experience he had lived since taking the form of Emmett Openshaw, claiming that were it not for Kay he wouldn't have remained in human form, and that all the pain that he endured was for her sake, so that she wouldn't have to see the man she loved turn into a monster.
Bill's love for his wife drove his dedication to remain in his human form even as it decayed, with his unwillingness to let her go through the pain of losing him being his sole motivation both for staying in human form and for all of the murders he committed to retain that guise.