David Fincher brings yet another dark hit to Netflix - this time, serial killers.
Set in 1977, young, ambitious, and wide-eyed FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and seasoned detective Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) begin researching the mind of the serial killers. Based on the early discoveries of criminal psychology and criminal profiling, Ford and Tench interview imprisoned serial killers in order to understand the psychology of their minds and apply the knowledge to current and future cases.
Drawing inspiration from the real-life founding of the FBI's Behavioral Crime Unit, Joe Penhall has crafted a show that toes the line between fiction and reality in a brilliant cross-contamination of real-life serial killers with fictional protagonists. One of the most captivating elements of Penhall's screenplays, besides the eery and chilling crimes, is its ability to make you believe you're actually watching a biographical drama. He effortless intermixes the bare outline of real-life events and infamous serial killers with the dynamic and compelling fictional character arch to create a drama that can grip you as much as repulse you. Penhall's drama, despite its gruesome and horrific content, perfectly teases our cultural obsession with murderers and allows you to understand the mind of a serial killer.
Penhall also creates an exciting and interesting character arch for his main character, Holden Ford, played, quite brilliantly, by Jonathan Groff. Ford starts off episode one as a wide-eyed, eager, and keen FBI agent, but ends episode 10 in a curled up heap on the floor having a nervous breakdown. Ford's subtle character arch throughout the first series 10 episodes see Ford go from a mindful student to an arrogant boss to a paranoid neurotic mess. You don't consciously see it happen - a testament to Fincher's trademark character work and Groff's contained performance - but the progression forms in your subconscious, making the finale rattle you because you're not quite sure how he got there. The unconventional unraveling of Ford is interesting and intriguing and offers one of the most engrossing series ending of 2017. It makes you wish series two was ready to be binged.
Then, of course, there is David Fincher's brilliantly horrify direction. Typical of Fincher's style, the grey, bleak undertones set the perfect atmosphere to bring this gritty crime drama to life. His trademark stylish directing creates a drama that is impossible to look away from - even then convention turns to mutilation. Fincher, without a doubt, produces and creates some of the most provocative and original projects, and his recent delve into television is a blessing to all of us who live to binge.
Joe Penhall and David Fincher have produced one of the best television series of the year. Underneath the gruesome narrative, stylish directing, and fiery characters, is a show that asks you question, "what separates me from a serial killer?".