The Killer has been in the Top 10 Movies on Netflix since its release last week. While it’s hard to say just how popular the film will become, it arrives at a notable point in the industry. Movies and television shows that center on serial killers are more common now than ever, but why? And why do we — the public — eat it up every time?
The Killer is just one example of these kinds of stories. Directed by David Fincher, the movie follows an unnamed hitman (Michael Fassbender) who must go into hiding and break protocol after a job gone wrong. His path toward vengeance involves stalking, disguises, and of course, a lot of murder.
That sounds like an intriguing enough premise, right? Well, thankfully, The Killer has all that and more.
Why ‘The Killer’ is Great
Now, Fincher is no stranger to the serial killer realm after directing movies such as Seven and Zodiac. Almost all of his movies have violent undertones. But The Killer marks the first time he’s put the narrative directly in the psychotic character’s hands. The result is an incredibly layered film about what happens when violence turns overly casual.
Perhaps the best thing about The Killer is its comfort in the mundane. While it’s hard to picture a series of murders being mundane, the film’s use of deadpan narration and a slow-burn pace make it undoubtedly so. Sure, the Killer takes its time, but the payoff is always worth it. It’s a tense thriller helmed expertly in front of and behind the camera.
All that being said, the success behind movies like The Killer begs the question: why on earth are there so many stories like this in the first place?
The Popularity of Serial Killers in the Media
It’s no secret that serial killers are all the rage these days, especially on television. True-crime shows like Dahmer and even fictionalized portrayals like You all gain massive traction and popularity. Frankly, it can be hard to keep up with all of them.
On the film side, movies about serial killers have been around for ages. From Psycho in 1960 to Silence of the Lambs in 1991, and now with The Killer, stories such as these have long had an audience. Movies like The Killer are especially interesting, as they place the audience directly in the mind of their murder-prone antagonists.
But whether we’re following them or not, serial killers have a firm place in the movie world. They’ve given some of our best actors their most iconic roles, like Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter or Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman. To call them pop culture staples would be an understatement, so it’s probably no surprise that movies like The Killer are still being made today.
But the question remains: why are these movies so popular anyway? Are we all just as sick and twisted as the serial killers they follow?
Why We Love Stories About Serial Killers
Truth be told, there’s no simple answer to the fascination behind serial killers. The draw toward movies about them can be for several reasons. It can be a form of escapism for audiences or being more informed in the real world. It can even be just a morbid curiosity around them in general (lest we forget about the rise in serial killer fandoms just last year).
Though, as we mentioned previously, true-crime series and fictional movies that put a serial killer front and center are especially intriguing for audiences. Movies like American Psycho, and now The Killer on Netflix, make for great entertainment, but why?
There’s always been an inescapable fascination with understanding serial killers — why they do the things they do or why they can’t stop. While it’d be amiss to humanize them, stories that center on their psychology give us a peek into how they think. For many audiences, that will always be worth exploring.
And if we can’t understand serial killers, at least we know their movies will make for excellent, bone-chilling thrillers. Some of the darkest, most tense films ever made are about them and their murderous escapades.
So, even though these movies follow the most deranged people and the bleakest of events, their place in movie-watching will always be welcome.