Based on the book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, the Netflix show Mindhunter presents a mostly fictionalized version of events in this book.
Created by Joe Penhall, The series follows special agents Holden Ford (Jonathon Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they travel the country to interview captured serial killers and figure out what makes them tick.
Along the way, they are joined by psychology professor Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), and the three of them strive to help the FBI adapt to a terrifying kind of killer that has yet to be officially recognized.
Mindhunter is very different from other crime TV series.
Most shows of this genre take an extremely fictionalized angle but not Mindhunter.
Sure, a lot of the characters are not real people, but many of the serial killers interviewed are.
The series also takes a realistic approach to the murders from the sole perspective of law enforcement.
Apart from the opening, we never see anyone die.
All the show gives us is pictures of the aftermath and the killers’ own words on what happened.
You would think this would make it hard to feel scared about some of these murders but this if far from the case.
The photos are often brutal and disturbing, and the way these killers talk about the murders they have committed is the most frightening feature of the show.
One of the main serial killers the shows focuses on is the real life Ed Kemper, the Co-ed Killer, who murdered ten people.
Kemper is portrayed by Cameron Britton, in a terrifyingly brilliant performance.
Watching his lifeless eyes while he talks about murder as if it is the most natural thing in the world always sent chills down my spine.
The other killers are just as creepy and, whenever Ford and Tench take on an active case, the details and progression of the case often lead to more disturbing scenes.
The impact these scenes have on the characters is shown fantastically because we see how it affects both Ford and Tench’s relationships with their loved ones.
Mindhunter also tackles the time it is set in, of the 1970s, incredibly well.
Subjects like the mistrust of the government, and the slowly changing tactics used to catch killers by the FBI, are handled realistically, just like everything else.
In fact, if I had to describe Mindhunter in one word that is what it would be: realistic.
There are no death matches between the FBI agent and the serial killer, there are no explosions, and there is no happy resolution.
Mindhunter feels like real life in all of its terrifying ways and that is what makes it so great.
I cannot wait to see season two, whenever it comes out.