Arts in Review

Inescapably binge-worthy: Netflix’s Mindhunter.



On October 13, Netflix released their newest original series — Mindhunter. This is the latest project from David Fincher, who is known for Gone Girl, Fight Club, and Zodiac. The series follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they travel around the U.S. interviewing various serial killers to try and understand their psyche, and the thought process behind their crimes. Later, Ford and Tench are joined by Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), a psychology professor at Boston University, who helps the FBI investigators develop a categorization system for the different types of killers, to help to understand them better.

Netflix offers a slew of true crime and crime related movies and TV shows. What makes Mindhunter different, and so interesting? First of all, the show takes its content seriously. Forensic Files or Dateline NBC, other popular crime shows, include cheesy music, overdone edits, and are completely over-dramatized. It’s loveable and addicting, but sometimes we want something more real, as opposed to something you can take lightly.  

Nothing about Mindhunter feels fake. Even though it is fiction (mostly based on true events) it develops so much like real life. This is due to the fact that the show follows a relatively simple storyline. Ford and Tench travel across the U.S. educating other police officers, and interviewing serial killers in the process. They go on various flights, road trips, and stay in a number of cheap motels. They both work during the day, and go home to their wife/girlfriend in the evening. It’s very simple, quite vanilla, nothing groundbreaking. To the average viewer, it is entirely relatable.

Also, the concepts portrayed and discussed in Mindhunter are groundbreaking in relation to the plot’s setting in the 1970s. Ford and Tench are questioning the way their agency thinks about and deals with serial killers. Before the actual Mindhunter book was written by John Douglas in 1995, it was assumed that serial killers and murderers were born that way, and that nothing could have stopped them from killing. However, Tench and Ford question this theory; This effort by the FBI in the 1970s changed the way we viewed and studied serial killers. This connection to real life may add to many viewers’ fascination with the series.

Although the plot is simple, it feels unique, and is completely intriguing. David Fincher’s varied but captivating cinematography is evident in this show. The show avoids hand-held or steadicam shots. All shots are taken using tripods, which creates a precise, almost-robotic camera movement. The entire season also has an earthy, yellow-toned, dull colour palette, which complements its themes of mystery and gravitas. The overall lighting in the show is dark, light is used sparingly, and in very specific locations. For example, in episode six, Tench and Ford are interviewing a character named Benjamin. The lighting in the room is incredibly muted, with the focus or centre of light on Benjamin. It causes the viewer to focus on what is in the scene, and really take it all in.

As far as the content goes, it is fascinating. The script is well thought out, keeping the viewer informed throughout, but takes care never to reveal too much about what’s next. It’s intelligent, and portrays the characters as such. The plot is alluring, mysterious, and amusing all at once. You always want to know what’s about to happen next. It’s one of those shows that keeps you guessing, but is never too confusing. Mindhunter is intelligent, absorbing, sexy, dark, twisted, and charming all in one.

Anyone who enjoys a good drama, is into crime shows and serial killers, or is looking for a full season to binge watch, would thoroughly enjoy this.

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