House of Cards creator, David Fincher, won't be slowing down anytime soon, and neither will Netflix's commitment to high-quality, original programing. Deadline reports that Netflix has picked up a David Fincher drama series, their second from the acclaimed director, and, this time, Fincher's leaving the White House for something a bit darker. The series will be based on the 1996 book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John Douglas and Mark Olshanker, and is aptly titled Mind Hunter as well. Fincher will collaborate with a-list actress, Charlize Theron, for the project, which will follow and explore some of the highest profile serial killer cases in history.
News of the series arrives at an opportune time, as the true crime genre has recently been given the limelight. Earlier this year, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki struck television gold when he decided to profile the eccentric and enigmatic Robert Durst. Then, just this week, Netflix premiered its own serialized true crime drama, Making a Murderer , a project that took 10 years to make, and echoes the kind of instant success the world found with another compelling murder mystery — Adnan Syed's case in last year's season of the podcast phenomenon, Serial. Our culture has always been fascinated with these kinds of narratives — as they make up the base for a large portion of our cinema, television, and books — but it wasn't until recently that these intricate, complex stories were done with the kind of cinematic bravado filmmakers usually reserved for, well, film.
Take for instance, two of David Fincher's (arguably) best and most stylized films: 2007's Zodiac, and 1995's Seven, both of which attempted to dive into the psyche of a serial killer within the framework of a singular and contained experience. Since then, the paradigm for telling these types of stories has shifted. Or, at least, it's beginning to shift. Creators are taking their time to explore the layers and nuances. They don't have to cram every detail into 90 minutes, and they don't have to win audiences over with Hollywood effects. True stories — told episodically — are holding their own against big budget films.
In my opinion, this only heightens the audience's investment. As they watch the cases unfold before them, the stakes feel higher than they ever have. It's voyeurism at its finest — reality television meets the atmospheric mood of modern day auteurs.
There's a reason David Fincher and Charlize Theron have taken to helm this project (other than it being an incredibly smart business move on their part) — the two have seen success with fictionalized adaptions of notorious serial killer cases. (See: aforementioned Zodiac, which followed the terrifying Bay Area killer of the '60s and '70s, or Charlize Theron's award winning portrayal of Aileen Wuornos in Monster.) But much like Jarecki — who made the move from 2010's Hollywood version of Durst's case in the film All Good Things to the much more successful The Jinx — Fincher and Theron are seeing an opportunity to push the boundaries further. With platforms like HBO and Netflix Originals, there's not only space for this kind of storytelling, there's desire.
Fincher, Theron, Netflix. It all seems like an impeccable match up for me, coming at exactly the right time. I have no doubts that Mind Hunter will be another true crime success.
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