Review by J.T. Johnson
When I first started watching “Mindhunter”, the new Netflix show from director David Fincher, I knew it had his name all over it. Like he did with other films such as “Seven” and “Zodiac”, Fincher takes a realistic and violent look into the lives of serial killers.
All ten episodes of the show hit Netflix on October 13. The show was already renewed for a second season before the first season even premiered. Since “House of Cards” will not be Netflix’s flagship show anymore, the streaming service needs new blood and this, along with “Stranger Things”, is just what the doctor ordered.
The show is basically telling a fictionalized version of the story about how the FBI created their modern day Behavioral Science Unit. Before the 1970s, the FBI was more focused on going after career bank robbers and your more run-of-the-mill criminals. Unfortunately, the rise of more demented “sequence” killers has them baffled.
Enter Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), a young special agent that thinks the only way you can catch one of these killers is to get inside their heads. He thinks that the only way to do this is to interview them in prison and try to get behind why they perform these horrible crimes. At first, the FBI doesn’t want to have anything to do with this.
They assign Holden to accompany Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), the head of the Behavioral Science Unit, across the country in order to teach police departments on how to stop deadly criminals. Holden uses the opportunity to unofficially interview Edmund Kemper, a convicted killer who is willing to talk about what he did.
Even though Bill is reluctant at first, he starts to see what Holden is doing when the information learned from Kemper helps them solve another case. Despite there still being reluctance from the Bureau, Holden and Bill are eventually allowed to interview other killers.
While the show does show a few moments of gore and violence, the show’s most disturbing scenes actually comes from the interviews themselves. Cameron Britton, for example, is electrifying as Kemper as he calmly talks about his horrendous crimes. Being that Kemper is one of the more forthcoming killers, I hope that the show manages to revisit Kemper in the next season.
Beyond the disturbing killers, though, the show is anchored down by Groff and McCallany. They are eventually joined by Anna Torv as Wendy Carr, a psychology professor who eventually joins them in order to better develop their research into the criminal mind. Together, this trio is what makes the show work as we learn not only what they do but also about how they cope with the dangerous knowledge that they acquire.
Now, if you are turned off by violence or even sex scenes, then you may want to avert your eyes. I applaud the show for not shying away from the more grotesque nature of these killers. It is a more realistic look into the minds of real-life serial killers and considering what they are setting up for future seasons, it looks like the creators plan to keep the show around for quite some time.