By Ivan Cazeres
“Mind Hunter” is an engrossing drama following some of the first professionals to seriously study the psychology of serial killers through the ‘70sand ‘80s.
Its among Netflix’s best produced series with stellar performances from actors, thought provoking subjects and a timeless soundtrack.
The monsters depicted in this series like Ed Kempher, aka the coed killer, and David Berkowitz, more commonly known as Son of Sam, are among the most frightening beings in entertainment because they aren’t figments of our imagination.
The series is based on a book by FBI agent John Douglas titled “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit.” Johnathan Groth’s portrayal of FBI agent Holden Ford is loosely based on Douglas.
Ford comes off as timid, but it’s his borderline obsession with what makes killers tick that drives the narrative, and it’s fascinating to observe traits shared between Ford and the killers he studys.
Loosely basing a character on its subjects rather than portraying a biographical depiction of them allowed writers to make creative decisions for the sake of storytelling without losing any believability.
Ford is joined by FBI agent Bill Tench and a university professor, Wendy Carr, to complete a trio of well developed characters with individual stories that complement the overarching narrative.
Tench who’s based on FBI profiler Robert Ressler is played by Holt MacCallany.
Tench is like Ford’s rudder keeping him in line when his obsession veers him off mission.
Carr is based on Ann Wolbert Burgess,PhD, and is played by Anna Torv. Carr is like the team’s emergency break, heading caution and providing a much needed expert voice.
“Mind Hunter” is a slow burn, taking its time to establish the team as individuals, their motives for taking on such research and their opinions on the subjects they study.
As amazing as the 10 episodes in season one are, its season 2 when the show hits its stride.
Tench is a family man, and while he’s invested in his work, he’s mostly motivated by advancing his career and providing for his family.
Audiences are thrown a curve ball in season two by making someone very close to Tench, a killer in a particularly disturbing case. It’s a creative liberty that pays off with viseratial tension and stress emitting from the character.
Part of the genius of “Mind Hunter” is how it delicately yet unapologetically tackles the topics of mental illness, racism, misogyny homosexuality, sexual repression and hate.
The series creates very believable scenes that provide glimpses of how a mental disorder as common as depression can be amplified by social influences and failures.
How a misogynist in a dead end job could cross the line from being a hateful bigot to inhuman rapist and murderer, and how a repressed homosexual black man can develop homophobia and hate toward young men of his own ethnicity.
There is hardly any gore in the series, but the impact these grotesque crimes have on the characters and the amount of detail included in the dialogue is enough to send shivers down the spines of viewers.
Cameron Britton’s portrayal of Kempher, the coed killer, is particularly impactful.
Not only does Britton’s physique translate the presence of an almost 7-foot-tall murderer with a 10-person-kill count must command, but he also does a frightening job of portraying Kempher’s disturbingly methodical thought pattern.
Fans of true crime dramas and character studies like “Taxi Driver” and the recently released “Joker” will really enjoy this series.