The director of ‘Zodiac’ and the distributor of ‘Making a Murderer’ look like a perfect match.
David Fincher, a director known for psychological thrillers, has a new Netflix series dealing with how the FBI studies serial killers. The 1970s-set show, titled Mindhunter, is based on the nonfiction book “Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” and focuses on the techniques of two fictional agents (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) who interview convicted mass murderers one-on-one in order to stop future crimes.
Fincher’s history with television is short but messy. Back in 2014, he signed a three-series deal with HBO, starting with the remake of the British drama Utopia. The company and Fincher had budget disputes that put a halt on that show’s production and led to a cancellation of his deal. However, Fincher has had an Executive Producer credit on Netflix’s House of Cards since its start, and he even directed the first two episodes. I don’t think I need to remind you how successful that show is.
That success has helped changed the way we consume television content in a way that works for Fincher’s needs. One notable choice is the 2:1 aspect ratio the episodes have. That ratio is designed for a computer screen, not a television screen. These decisions are made to optimize the audience’s viewing experience. Clearly, Fincher has a grasp on how to produce content for a company that redefined the television experience. This may be only his second television credit to make it to release, but it has the makings of another Netflix hit.
On top of that, this show is hardly new territory for Fincher. He is known for messing with serial killers and psychopaths in his films. Whether it’s with the world famous Zodiac Killer in Zodiac, a fictional serial killer focused on the deadly sins in Se7en, or the psychopath of suburbia in Gone Girl, Fincher has put thought into what it takes mentally to be a mass murderer. Now, he’s taking that thought process public as Mindhunter focuses on attempts to understand that mindset.
Here’s our first look at the series in a trailer that debuted this week:
In Fincher’s films, the perspective is usually from the detectives or cops trying to track down a single killer and stop him before he kills again. Mindhunter takes that perspective to a larger scale, as the agents look at a variety of convicted killers and try to stop other potential murderers. With that greater scope, Fincher faces the challenge of getting the viewer to follow along with these characters. It’s clear that this is something many Netflix subscribers are interested in, based on the success of last year’s documentary series Making a Murderer, about how one man was framed for two separate murders.
Netflix is so confident the show will take off that they already renewed the show for a second season before the first season’s release. It’s hard to fault them, though, because it’s pretty obvious that show about serial killers is the perfect project for Fincher. This may even be a career high for him.
Mindhunter‘s first season debuts in full on October 13.