Netflix’s “Mindhunter”: A Walk Down The Psycho-Path

Understanding Why Killers Kill the Way They Do

By: Josiah Akhtab

Poster for Mindhunter, a series about the motives of psychopaths. (Credit:

American Crime Drama web TV Series “Mindhunter” takes us for a walk down the “psycho-path”. . . psycho being a vast understatement.

Set in 1977, “Mindhunter” centers around FBI Agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), who interview criminals to gain a better understanding of how they think so it can be applied to real world cases.

The Netflix series is based on the novel “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker.

Throughout the show, we as viewers get to explore the minds of the most vicious, horrifying, and just plain “WTF!” murder cases in existence.

We see how killers, serial killers among other types, choose their victims, how they plan to kill them, what they do afterwards in dealing with law enforcement and much more.

The acting by Jonathan Groff  and Holt McCallany make the show convincing, as they perfectly portray two FBI agents with the same agenda with two different mindsets.

Holden is the forward thinking agent, whereas Bill is the old school agent who rarely is willing to be as such.

The writing makes not only the roles of the agents, but the role of the killers captivating and horrifying.

The casualness in which the killers speak of their crimes shows the writers did their research and knew what they were doing.

They did a fantastic job pulling people into the world of serial killers, and keeping them there for the duration of the show.

The show’s music created the right tone for the subject matter, that being slow, methodical, classical and dark.

The music accentuates the importance and gravity of what is taking place inside the show, as well as help take the viewer from the real world to the world of the characters and the issues they face.

It also helped heighten key moments in the show, hooking in viewers effectively. The tone of the movie was effortlessly clear.

The setting was often in dark rooms, at night, or on cloudy and overcast days. The setting brings the depressing, melancholy tone of the show to life, creating a world of perpetual problems, despair, mental anguish and so on.

The tone meshed well with the other elements, making for a true psychological crime series; great cinematography also helped in establishing tone.

The camera angle on the characters at key moments of the show aided in showing the toll this world takes on the characters: the baggy eyes, the irritability and the long sighs. The angles the characters are shot from convey the feelings the characters are experiencing.

The setting was very morbid, from the police stations, to the prisons and the characters homes. It perpetuated this dark world and the few bright spots it possessed magnificently.

It was very easy for viewers to get sucked into the show, showing one of the many layers reality possesses.

“Mindhunter” took a true concept and put a unique spin on it.

By setting it in the 1970’s, where criminal psychology was still new, viewers got to see the true horrors of reality of that time, as well as how institutions dealt with these horrors. This gives the show a real chance at attaining longevity in the psychological crime genre.

The show was filmed in McKeesport, Pennsylvania and released Oct 13. It received a 78/100 on Metacritic, based on 23 critics.

Rotten Tomatoes’ site consensus stated, “Mindhunter” distinguishes itself in a crowded genre with ambitiously cinematic visuals and a meticulous attention to character development.”

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