On The Small Screen Reviews

The Weekend Binge – Mindhunter

Serial killers are haunting but horrifyingly interesting. What pushes a person to slaughter another? Not in a fit of rage or passion but by strategic planning systematic murders.

What are the motives? What are the causes? What can we learn about our own behaviours?

Some may want us to dismiss these people as monsters but the FBI Behaviour Unit has become famed at investigating patterns and types to predict crime and catch criminals. Now there is a television series all about their work.

Produced by David Fincher, ebbs of Zodiac, Gone Girl, and Seven flow through this precise and afflicting television series Mindhunter.

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Mindhunter revolves around Holton Ford, an FBI hostage negotiator who, after a failed case, is relegated to teaching. Whilst taking extra classes, Ford becomes interested in the behaviour of criminals, specifically “sequence” killer who have murdered three or more times. Enlisting Bill Tench to help him, Ford decides that to understand the root of evil, and use it to stop crimes, he must interview convicted serial killers in order.

Actor Jonathon Groff, who is best known in Loving, Glee, and on stage in Hamilton, is an adept and fantastic actor but here, he is phenomenal  here as the obsessive Ford. Groff starts his character as a man somewhat frustrated, turning him into a gleeful interpreters for the serial killers he interviews, and then finessing him into a character who is fuelled by his own pride, matching the twists and turns of the subjects he interviews that he is beyond terrified of his own nature. These intricacies are caught by Groff in this flawed lead man, but phenomenal lead performance.

As Tench , Holt McCallany is brilliant. Though he could’ve easily been played off as gruff, his uneasiness with the subjects plus family issues layer the bulky and angered Tench. Showing he is affected by the killers and murders he investigates, he never wavers from using his insights to help – although he does deliver one of the most chilling monologues about marriage and triggers.

Anna Torv as Dr. Wendy Carr and Hannah Cross and Ford’s girlfriend Deborah are welcome added additions to this thrilling piece, excavating social and psychological behaviours whilst also dealing with their own issues.

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The most fascinating characters, predictably, are the murderers. Bringing real life figures to the screen is no easy feat. Happy Anderson and Jackie Erdie highlight the difficulty of going under the skin of serial killer in effectively chilling ways. The most chilling, and also most celebrated, is Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper. The way he holds himself, the slow drawl in which he speaks, the flitting between horror and humour is chilling. In one breath he talks about

Mindhunter has moments where the story dwindles, but that is part of the course: there is a slow pace and some of the side stories should be contained to one episode. But as a genre series, it twists and turns with an engrossing main story and taking a fascinating dive into the human psyche.

Mindhunter is available on Netflix! 

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