Sometimes, what goes on underneath the surface is scarier than what we see.
Mindhunter, the latest Netflix creation from thriller extraordinaire David Fincher, follows FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) along with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) as they begin the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, using psychology to further understand criminal behavior. As part of their research, Holden and Tench travel around the country interviewing famous serial killers, gaining insights to apply them to current cases.
I was ecstatic to hear that David Fincher was producing another series. I never felt House of Cards really demonstrated the best of Fincher’s style and tone, and I was a little worried whether his signatures would be present here. However, after watching Mindhunter, I was thoroughly pleased. The tone reminded me of Zodiac, one of my favorite Fincher films: dark and bleak, sprinkled with the perfect amount of serial killer goodness.
As is the case with all of Fincher’s work, the acting is top notch. Groff plays Holden Ford with the perfect sense of book-smart-intensity, making you sometimes question whether he’s the crazy one. McCallany as Tench balances Ford’s book-smarts with a street-smart, old-school mentality. Together they prove to be a team that, despite having major differences, functions efficiently. The best performance in the show, however, goes to newcomer Cameron Britton as real-life serial killer Edmund Kemper. He stole every scene he was in. Britton plays Kemper with such intensity and darkness that you can’t help being terrified of him.
I loved how the show never felt the need to go overly graphic. Sure, there is a fair amount of blood in the show, but Mindhunter never feels the need to go overboard with it. They choose to have the majority of the gruesome violence occur off-screen, portrayed through disturbing interviews. They completely go against that oh-so-important rule your English teachers taught you: show, don’t tell. However, by telling, not showing, Mindhunter sets itself apart from other television shows by allowing the audience to do some of the imagining for themselves, proving to be just as—if not more—horrifying than seeing the violence in real life.
The only negative I have about the show was how they handled the ADT man, a recurring character built up to be the main antagonist in future seasons. I felt they could have done so much more with him, but only season 2 will answer that need.
Overall, Mindhunter is beautifully dark, filled with great performances, an excellent premise, and I can’t wait for season 2, which will probably drop sometime this fall.