As human beings and particularly as Americans, we are fascinated by what we don’t understand. The more extreme, unimaginable, or twisted, the more we are drawn to certain figures and phenomenons. For a prime illustration, look no further than our obsession with serial killers and unsolved mysteries.
There are probably few events in the last 150 years that have sold more newspapers than Jack the Ripper or the Zodiac Killer. Alfred Hitchcock invented an entire genre of film based on this and made a handful of what are still considered among the best movies of all time. The Crime Mystery/Psychological Thriller genre has been a constant for the last 75 years giving us titles like A Clockwork Orange, Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, and American Psycho. During that time, it has also produced some of the most popular and long-running shows on television including The Rockford Files, Law & Order, and Unsolved Mysteries to name a few.
As undeniably great as Hitchcock’s movies and several since then have been, the last five years have taken this and this subject matter to a different stratosphere. The rise in popularity of documentaries, new outlets like NetFlix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu, and entirely new mediums like Podcasts have produced an embarrassment of riches in terms of volume and quality. The problem isn’t finding something to watch/listen to but has become having to sift through all the options and then finding time to consume all of it.
But if you are a fan of True Detective, Dexter, Making a Murderer, The Jinx, Serial, Criminal Minds, any of the works mentioned above, or anything similar, I’d recommend clearing about 10 hours on your schedule as soon as possible to check out Mindhunter.
The 10 episode Netflix original series based on the true crime book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker was released this past week. It is set in the 1970’s during the early days of criminal psychology before the term “serial killer” had even been created, much less entered into the public consciousness. The show revolves around FBI agents, Holden Ford and Bill Tench, who were the first to interview imprisoned serial killers to analyze and understand how criminals think. As they’re gaining insight and entering the most deranged criminal minds like no one ever had they’re also applying this knowledge to solving similar ongoing cases.
Mindhunter was created by Joe Penhall, an English/Australian playwright and screenwriter (I’d name some of his works but if you’re reading this, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve never heard of any of them). It was produced by David Fincher (directed Seven, Zodiac, Fight Club, Gone Girl and co-created House of Cards) and Charlize Theron. Fincher also directed 4 of the 10 episodes.
The only really recognizable actor is Jonathan Groff (well-known from Glee and his role as King George III in Hamilton) who plays FBI Detective Holden Ford. Holt McCallany plays Bill Tench, the other Detective the show is centered around. McCallany is not a well-known name has a lon-running career of smaller parts in movies like Fight Club and Men of Honor as well as appearances on numerous episodes of Law & Order, CSI, and similar shows. There are a few other familiar faces but no real marquee names. It is extremely well-acted though and I would guess that Mindhunter becomes a springboard for Hannah Gross and Anna Torv to enter public consciousness.
Episodes range from 34 to 60 minutes but most are around the 45-50 minute mark.
Mindhunter is currently sitting at 90% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Season Two has already been green lit for sometime in 2018.