After Dahmer: Best serial killer movies and TV shows

Americans seem to fear and love serial killers in equal measure. How else do we explain that we huddle, smack, around an endless deluge of movies, shows, novels, podcasts, genuine crime non-fiction, and even video games who consistently brings these (mostly) men and their bloody deeds to the fore? Our latest national obsession is the Netflix miniseries, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, who has already become one of his greatest hits. (Although so many people inexplicably equate Netflix with streaming – or even the television itself — and given the streamer’s ongoing dearth of premium content, I wonder if anything semi-convincing and buzzy enough would instantly become a massive hit for him.)

But where were we… oh, yes, serial killers! They’ve been ubiquitous in our popular culture for decades, being the subject of acclaimed stories like psychology, Thesilenceofthelambs, Dexterand real detective. Even as an actual serial murder decline since 1980s Due to a safer global society and more sophisticated policing techniques, we remain hungry for more, uh, serialized content. While we can’t hope to create an exhaustive list in this space, here are four relatively recent shows and a movie you can skip to once you’ve devoured Dahmer.

Black Bird (2022)

Paul Walter Hauser and Taron Egerton in Black Bird on Apple TV
Paul Walter Hauser and Taron Egerton in Black Bird AppleTV

After a shaky start with some disappointing and mixed offers (See, The morning show) Apple TV+ bounced back with several gems, including the instant masterpiece, Breakup, a show so expertly crafted that it almost defies belief. Though not in this rarefied air, Black birdby the great novelist and screenwriter Dennis Lehane (Gone, baby, gone, the mystical river), also deserves attention, especially for the courageous and heartbreaking performances of its two protagonists, Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser.

Egerton plays Jimmy Keane, a convicted drug dealer who agrees to be transported to a dangerous maximum-security prison to help the feds convince a suspected serial killer, Larry Hall (Hauser), to confess to more murders before that he is released for a technical detail, free of charge. kill again. Why Kean? Because he’s handsome and charming and can make people open up to him. But despite his skill at manipulation, Keane is far from a narcissist, and his conscience agonizes as he begins to understand how his own history of feminization may come from a place similar to Hall’s murderous misogyny.

In a side story, Greg Kinnear and Sepideh Moafi play mismatched law enforcement partners trying to dig up more dirt on Hall from the outside. But Keane’s redemption arc drives the show. His journey is tortured given what he learns about Hall – brilliantly crafted by Hauser as a high-pitched man-child – and must come to terms with himself and human beings in general.

You can broadcast Black bird on AppleTV+ and stream and rent it on other digital platforms.

Weird (2020)

FREAKY – Official Trailer (HD)

If you don’t mind the gore, this horror-comedy from Blumhouse is pure fun, not least for the terrific performances. It’s safe to say that Vince Vaughn has phoned in his share of movies (you can even argue that Vaughn doesn’t try to hide the fact that he sometimes phones them), but that’s far from the case here. The actor is totally committed to the film’s body-switching premise and he’s absolutely brilliant.

Vaughn plays the Blissfield Butcher, a serial killer who attacks high school student Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton), wounding her with an ancient mystical dagger. The next day, they discover that they have changed bodies, terrible friday, and Millie, now inside the Butcher’s body, must convince her friends that it’s really her (Misha Osherovich and Celeste O’Connor do some hilarious supporting work as friends). Meanwhile, the Butcher assumes Millie’s body, transforms her into a sexy girl, and uses her as a cover to slice and dice various teachers and students. Of course, the horrible dispatch of jerks and bullies provides indirect gratification for anyone in the audience who still harbors hatred in their hearts for high school (that is, let’s face it, most of us).

Director Christopher Landon is an expert on the genre, having written and directed entries in the paranormal activity candor and satire happy day of the dead. One would think that 25 years later Scream there would be few places left to go with the slasher parody, but Landon constantly extracts fresh humor and invention from the dusty old well. This, coupled with the skillful work of the actors, makes for a hilarious and disgusting moment in cinema.

You can rent and buy Weird on several digital platforms.

I’ll be gone in the dark (2020)

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (2020): Official Trailer | HBO

HBO’s six-part documentary series chronicles one of the most gruesome true-crime cases in American history, that of the ‘Golden State Killer,’ who threatened California in the 1970s and 1980s with more than 50 invasions house arrests, during which he usually terrorized his victims for hours before raping and sometimes murdering them. The bloody tale is made more compelling by the way the series frames it through the experiences of Michelle McNamara, an amateur sleuth who detailed her years of work trying to track down the killer in the book that became the basis of series.

I will not reveal the fate of McNamara or the Golden State Killer here. Suffice to say, law enforcement has made amazing breakthroughs in recent years based on McNamara’s work and emerging DNA tracing technology. In addition to weaving together the detective and killer stories, the series is also an ominous mediation on the nature of obsession. Our society – especially women, who are usually the victims of these monsters – has seen a true crime craze over the past decade, during which podcasts such as Serial and my favorite murder have become among the most popular of the form. McNamara’s case becomes a cautionary tale of how constantly dwelling on this macabre material can have deleterious effects on the psyche.

You can broadcast I’ll be gone in the dark on HBO Max and rent it on other digital platforms.

Rillington Square (2016)

BBC Premiere – Rillington Place

Quentin Tarantino called Tim Roth one of the best actors in the world and watch the BBC Rillington Square, in which Roth disappears behind make-up to play real-life post-war English serial killer John Christie, you’d be hard pressed to argue with him. In fact, a big game seems to characterize most of the entries on this list, as well as many other famous serial killer films (Freak, Badlands, Zodiac). I guess inhabiting serial killers and their victims requires an advanced level of skill and commitment, which you’re sure to find in Roth’s chilling portrayal, as well as Samantha Morton’s performance as Christie’s wife, Ethel.

Christie’s murders of at least eight women (also dramatized in the earlier classic 10 Rillington Square starring Richard Attenborough as the serial killer) are among Britain’s most notorious crimes, particularly because Christie used her modest manner to lure desperate young women with promises of abortion, which was then illegal in the country. One of his most famous victims was his neighbor, Beryl Evans, and Christie was thought to have killed her baby as well, although the baby’s father was hanged for it, in part thanks to Christie’s (ironically, Jodie Comer plays Evans a few years before she became a star as Villanelle, another sort of serial killer on Kill Eve).

Like I previously writtenRillington Place is a searing indictment of a mid-century English society that limited women to second-class status, thus enabling a monster like Christie. The miniseries has not been seen widely in the United States, but perhaps the Dahmer the hype will have some looking for it.

You can stream Rillington Place on Houpla and rent it on other digital platforms.

Hannibal (2013-15)

Hannibal and Will in Hannibal
Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy in Hannibal NBC

Thesilenceofthelambs is generally considered the best of Hannibal Lecter’s filmed content (which also includes Michael Mann’s film man hunterthe film version of Hannibal with Julianne Moore, Red Dragonand Hannibal rising) but the cult NBC series is arguably better. How this deranged gore-fest came to network TV – even when the networks were trying to keep up”TV Peak » innovation on cable and streamers – remains a mystery. But thank goodness it did, because it’s one of the most creative and artfully rendered shows ever produced.

Hannibal first makes a half-hearted attempt to be a forensic procedure, ala ITUC, with a group of lab techs joking about bizarrely mutilated corpses. While perhaps acknowledging that the show wouldn’t last long in prime time, showrunner Bryan Fuller and his team quickly abandoned any pretense of conventionality and fully honed in on their macabre vision, which includes arrangements of a disturbing beauty of mutilated bodies and the exquisite dishes they become in Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen) 5-Star Cuisine.

In this version of the material, the notorious serial cannibal is not only on the loose and practicing high-priced psychiatry (The X Files Gillian Anderson plays a fellow shrink), but he’s commissioned by the FBI to assess their troubled profiler, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who slips further down the rabbit hole after every depraved criminal he’s asked to mentally dwell in. . Of course, Hannibal uses his therapy sessions with Will for his own ends in his eternal scheme to bend all humans to his evil designs. From character psychology to twisted art direction, Hannibal is a freak show in the best way.

You can stream Hannibal on Hulu and buy it on other digital platforms.

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