After Dahmer: best serial killer movies and TV shows to watch

Americans seem to fear and love serial killers in equal measure. How else to explain that we push ourselves, affected, around an endless stream of movies, shows, novels, podcasts, nonfiction about true crime, and even video games that constantly put these (mostly) men and their bloody deeds in the foreground? Our latest national obsession is the Netflix miniseries, Dahmer – The Monster: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer, which has already become one of his biggest hits. (Although given that so many people inexplicably equate Netflix with streaming — or even television itself — and given the streamer’s continued lack of top-notch content, I wonder anything semi-convincing and suitably noisy would immediately become a big hit for him.)

But where did we leave off… oh yes, serial killers! They’ve been everywhere in our popular culture for decades, the subject of acclaimed stories like Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, Dexterand A true detective. Although real-life serial killings have decreased since the 1980s due to an overall safer society and more sophisticated police techniques, we’re still hungry for more, ahem, serialized content. While we couldn’t hope to do an exhaustive list in this space, here are four relatively recent shows and one movie to switch to once you’ve devoured them Dahmer.

Black Bird (2022)

Paul Walter Hauser and Taron Egerton in Black Bird Apple TV

After a shaky start with several unconvincing offerings with mixed reviews (See, Morning show) Apple TV+ bounced back with several gems, including the instant masterpiece, Severance pay, a show so expertly executed that it almost defies belief. Although not in that thin air, Black birdthe great writer of crime novels and screenwriter Dennis Lehane (Gone, baby, gone, The mystical river), also deserves attention, especially for the brave and harrowing performances of the two leads, Taron Egerton and Paul Walter Hauser.

Egerton stars as Jimmy Keane, a convicted drug dealer who agrees to be transferred to a dangerous maximum security prison to help the feds get suspected serial killer Larry Hall (Hauser) to confess to more murders before being released on a technicality. to kill again. Why Keane? Because he is handsome and charming and can get people to open up to him. But despite his manipulative skills, Keane is far from a narcissist, and his conscience stings as he begins to realize how his own history of misogynistic behavior may come from a similar place to Hall’s murderous misogyny.

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In a side story, Greg Kinnear and Sepideh Moafi play mismatched law enforcement partners who are on the outside trying to dig up more dirt on Hall. But Keane’s redemptive arc drives the show. His journey is harrowing given what he’s learned about Hall – brilliantly imagined by Hauser as a man-child with a high-pitched voice – and he must confront himself and human beings in general.

You can stream Black bird on Apple TV+ and stream and rent on other digital platforms.

Freaky (2020)

FREAKY – Official Trailer (HD)

If you don’t mind the gore, this Blumhouse horror comedy is a real treat, not least because of the great performances. One can argue that Vince Vaughn has phoned in his share of movies (one could even argue that Vaughn doesn’t try to hide the fact that he sometimes phones them in), but that’s not the case here. The actor is totally committed to the film’s body-swapping premise and he’s an absolute badass.

Vaughn plays the Butcher of Blissfield, 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 switched bodies, a la Crazy Friday, and Millie, now inside the Butcher’s body, has to convince her friends that it’s really her (Misha Osherovich and Celeste O’Connor do hilarious supporting work as the friends). Meanwhile, the butcher takes over Millie’s body, turns her into a hot girl, and uses her as a front to cut up various teachers and students. Of course, the horrible send-up of jerks and bullies provides vicarious satisfaction for anyone in the audience who still harbors a hatred of high school in their hearts (which, let’s face it, is most of us).

Director Christopher Landon is an expert in the genre, having written and directed roles in Paranormal activity franchise and made a satirical one Happy death day. One would think that 25 years later Scream there would be little room left for slasher parody, but Landon consistently draws fresh humor and invention from the dusty old well. This, combined with the skillful work of the actors, provides a hilarious and disgusting time in the cinema.

You can rent and buy Weird on multiple digital platforms.

I will disappear into the darkness (2020)

I’ll Disappear into Darkness (2020): Official Trailer | HBO

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HBO’s six-part documentary series chronicles one of the most horrific true-crime cases in American history, that of the “Golden State Killer,” who terrorized California in the 1970s and ’80s with more than 50 home invasions, usually he terrorized his victims for hours before raping and sometimes killing them. The blood-curdling story is made more fascinating by the way the series frames it through the experiences of Michelle McNamara, an amateur detective who detailed her years of work trying to find the killer in the book that became the basis for the series.

I will not reveal the fates of either McNamara or the Golden State Killer here. Suffice it to say, law enforcement has made astonishing strides in the past few years based on McNamara’s work and new DNA tracking technology. In addition to intertwining the stories of a detective and a murderer, the series is also a disturbing mediation on the nature of obsession. Our society – especially women, who are usually the victims of these monsters – has gone through a real infatuation with crime over the past decade, during which podcasts like Serial and My favorite murder have become among the most popular forms. McNamara’s case becomes a cautionary tale of how constantly thinking about this gruesome material can have damaging effects on the psyche.

You can stream I will disappear into the darkness on HBO Max and rent it on other digital platforms.

Rillington Place (2016)

BBC First – Rillington Place

Quentin Tarantino called Tim Roth one of the best actors in the world and he watches BBCs Rillington Place, in which Roth disappears behind makeup to portray real-life post-World War II English serial killer John Christie, you’d be hard-pressed to argue with him. In fact, great acting seems to characterize most of the entries on this list, as well as many other famous serial killer movies (Monster, Badlands, Zodiac). I imagine it takes an advanced level of skill and dedication to inhabit serial killers and their victims, which you’ll certainly find in Roth’s chilling portrayal, as well as Samantha Morton’s performance as Christie’s long-suffering wife, Ethel.

Christie’s murders of at least eight women (also dramatized in an earlier classic 10 Rillington Place starring Richard Attenborough as a serial killer) are among Britain’s most notorious crimes, particularly as Christie used his understated ways 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 also thought to have killed her own child, although the child’s father was hanged for it, thanks in part to Christie’s testimony (ironically, Jodie Comer played Evans just a few years before she became a star as Villanelle, another type of serial killer Killing Eve).

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As I wrote before, “Rillington Place is a scathing indictment of mid-century English society that relegated women to second-class status, thus enabling a monster like Christie.” The miniseries wasn’t seen much in the US, but maybe still Dahmer the hype will prompt some to seek it out.

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

Hannibal (2013-15)

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

The Silence of the Lambs usually considered the best of Hannibal Lecter’s recorded content (which also includes Michael Mann Manhunterfilm version Hannibal with Julianne Moore, red dragonand The Rise of Hannibal) but the cult NBC series is convincingly better. How this deranged gore-fest made it to network television — even as the networks tried to keep up with “Peak TV” innovations on cable and streamers — remains a mystery. But thank goodness it did, as it is one of the most creative and skillfully executed shows ever produced.

Hannibal he initially makes a half-hearted attempt at being a forensic procedural, ala CSI, with a group of lab technicians joking over bizarrely mutilated corpses. While they may have realized the show wouldn’t last long in primetime, showrunner Bryan Fuller and his team quickly dropped any pretense of conventionality and fully committed to their macabre vision, which includes disturbingly beautiful arrangements of mutilated bodies and exquisite dishes that turn into Hannibal’s . (Mads Mikkelsen) 5-star cuisine.

In this version of the material, the famous serial cannibal is not only on the loose and practicing expensive psychiatry (The X-Files Gillian Anderson plays a fellow psychiatrist), but he’s accompanied by the FBI to evaluate their troubled profiler, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who slides further down the rabbit hole after every depraved criminal he’s asked to mentally inhabit. Of course, Hannibal is using his therapy sessions with Will for his own purposes in his eternal project to bend all people to his Machiavellian plans. 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.

Editor’s recommendations

Categories: GAMING

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