Very few viewers are neutral about Netflix's hit serial killer drama Mindhunter. A survey of social media mentions makes it clear that viewers either hate it or love it—and given its popularity in general, the fans definitely outnumber the haters.
One reason Seven and Zodiac director David Fincher's show—co-produced by Charlize Theron—is a hit seems obvious. The Silence of the Lambs-like conversations between FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and various real-life serial killers like Jerry Brudos, Monte Rissell, and Big Ed Kemper are completely riveting.
As played by Cameron Britton, Kemper in particular is one of the most quietly chilling serial killer portrayals since Anthony Hopkins debuted Hannibal Lecter. With pitch-perfect subtlety, Britton's Big Ed is 6'9" and 300 pounds of friendly giant fun. He's personable, interesting to talk to, and absolutely terrifying.
Until Mindhunter Kemper was a more obscure serial killer name than Ted Bundy or John Gacy. That was strange, given Kemper was easily the most dangerous of the three. He killed six young women in and around Santa Cruz with total impunity. Then he killed his mother and his mother's best friend. And in the end he had to turn himself in—even arguing with police early on, insisting he was telling the truth.
Once he was in prison, Kemper proved bizarrely open and honest about his crimes and who he was. He ultimately gave several documentary interviews in addition to his talks with real FBI agents John Douglas ("Ford" in the show) and Robert Ressler (Tench).
Youtuber Thomas Flight apparently noticed Britton's eerie grasp of the real killer's speech patterns and manner and put together the first video above to demonstrate just how good the performance truly is. And it's astounding—show writers wisely just quoted Kemper's real words directly at times, and Britton's rhythm of delivery synchronizes perfectly with Kemper's cadence.
Mindhunter is a slow burn but it burns in a way that makes it unusually binge-worthy—it creeps up on you then kind of crouches in the shadows.
Serial killer docudramas aren't exactly categorized with horror flicks, but with Halloween closing in, put Mindhunter on your playlist. It's still intensely watchable nightmare fuel.