Be still our beating hearts: Charlize Theron has teamed up with the director of Gone Girl to create our new TV obsession.
Mindhunter, which is based on the 1996 book Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, is a story that has long captivated Theron - so much so that she bought the rights to it.
And now – with more than a little help from Fight Club and The Social Network David Fincher – Theron’s dreams of seeing the book on the small screen have finally been realised.
The Netflix series – which is set in 1970s America – follows FBI Agent Ford (Jonathan Groff) and his colleague (Holt McCallany), both of whom specialise in understanding the minds of murderers.
As a pioneer of this disturbing field, Agent Ford interviews psychopaths in a bid to get inside their heads and predict their next moves. His approach appears to be full of humility: a unique method at a time when the term ‘serial killer’ is just being coined.
Ford’s persistence to get close to these criminals makes for scenes that are the perfectly skin-crawling mix of hard to watch, and equally hard to look away from.
This is immediately made clear in the series trailer, which warns us: “It’s not easy butchering people, it’s hard work – physically and mentally.
“I don’t think people realise… you need to vent.”
FBI bosses soon come to realise that “psychopaths are convinced that there’s nothing wrong with them, so these men are virtually impossible to study”, and they ask Ford to teach his unique techniques to police departments all over the country.
But the deeper the agent tangles himself in this morbid web, the murkier the waters of morality become.
Mindhunter highlights questions around humanising murder, as Ford becomes criticised for his show of empathy. At one point he’s told by a superior,“it is not our job to commiserate with these people, it is our job to electrocute them”.
The show also probes nature vs nurture territory, with scenes showing a professor asking the age-old question, “are criminals born or are they formed?”.
Judging from the combination of eerie music, grizzly murder scenes and Ford’s determination to push the psyche of psychopaths to limit, we can see this being the kind of series that grabs you and doesn’t let go.
So if dark, psychological thrillers are your thing, prepare to be well and truly pulled in.
As Ford says: “You want truffles? You’ve got to get in the dirt with the pigs.”
Images: Patrick Harbron / Netflix