Generally when a show or movie comes out with little to no fanfare it means the studio or channel doesn’t have a lot of faith in it, or that it isn’t very good. Which is why it was surprising that Mindhunter, developed by David Fincher and Charlize Theron, just showed up on Netflix this October the 13th with barely a word to the press, because it is gripping television.
The show is about the beginning of the Behavioral Science Unit in the FBI. Their job is to try and find out why serial killers and sociopaths act the way they do by interviewing the deranged killers that have already been caught, and then use that information to catch other criminals or hopefully prevent more of these kinds of murders from happening in the future. Of course, they weren’t called serial killers in 1977 because the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit hadn’t named them that yet.
While Mindhunter is based on a non-fiction book about real events, they did change the names of the Agents involved. I believe they did this to give them more freedom to play with how this affected the Agents’ personal lives. The serial killers on the other hand all go by their real names, and the interviews with these ‘gentlemen’ are quite disturbing. Mindhunter doesn’t get the audience hooked with a lot of gore or terrible imagery, but by hearing what these guys did to their victims from their own lips, and seeing the affect this has on the Agents as they try to get ‘close’ to them, so that killers will open up and share their dark secrets.
The cast is fantastic. The core of the Behavioral Science Unit played by Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv all bring something different to the group, and seeing how their characters change from the beginning to the end of the show engrossing. The guys they got to play the serial killers, especially Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper, are all disturbingly believable.
Then there is David Fincher. He is a still a master director, and the episodes he directs personally all manage to have you on the seat of your pants even though nothing except talking is really going on. I am pretty sure the guy that made Facebook interesting could make a movie about water boiling at this point, and I would watch it.
It goes without saying this show is not for kids. Mostly due to the langue and the pictures these guys look at from time to time, and there is some nudity that feels a bit out of place. However, if you are of age Mindhunter is great show that somehow turns the police procedural on its head by focusing on the research instead of the crime scenes or chase sequences. In fact, no one at any point gets chased in this show, well at least the first season. Here is hoping season two will be just as good.