Netflix is known to have some high quality true crime docu series, such as Don’t F**k with Cats and Tiger King. Their first new limited series of 2021 only mentions feline in its final act, but instead focuses on a notoriously brutal serial killer that wreaked havoc in L.A. mid 1980’s. Can Netflix keep winning with this formula, or is there just too much of this content on the streaming service?
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer tells the engrossing true story of one of the most infamous serial killers in American history. While a heatwave drives every Angeleno into a frenzy, the cooler nights become the scene of numerous crimes during the summer of 1985. Murders, sexual assaults and violent break-ins all over the city seem unrelated, but when young detective Gil Carrillo from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and homicide investigator Frank Salerno start noticing clues that connect these crimes, L.A. wouldn’t rest until the culprit had been brought to justice. Race, gender, age, … it doesn’t matter, never before in criminal history had a single killer been responsible for such a grisly array of crimes. It’s up to Carrillo and Salerno to stop this nocturnal monster before time runs out, as he becomes more and more violent with each passing night. As they worked tirelessly to solve the case, the media hounded their tracks, and panic gripped California.
Told through harrowing first-person interviews, gripping archival footage and spectacular original photography, this four-part series represents the definitive telling of this iconic L.A. real-life horror story, painting a portrait of how it felt to live in fear at a time when absolutely anyone could be the Night Stalker’s next victim.
The first two episodes might feel a bit repetitive, when we hear one victim after the other share their experience with this relentless killer, but the details that have scarred their memories are so gruesome, you just can’t look away. It’s at this point we don’t know yet who is behind all of this or what his motive is, if he even has one. All we know is that he’s unstoppable and there’s no way of knowing where he’ll strike next. Those who grew up or know about the case in question might know most of the details that are being shared, but in true horror movie-style, Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout.
After recent events, we can all agree that the police force isn’t something to applaud, and this limited series doesn’t glorify the law enforcement, as it becomes clear early on how they screw up many times before catching this murderous predator, while the answers were right in front of them. The people of L.A. were afraid, but knew how to work together when the right moment presented itself in the hunt of this evil force. When we finally get to explore the Night Stalker’s true identity in the final episode, things get even more horrifying when his true intentions and evil actions seem almost demonic.
Netflix’s newest limited true crime docuseries isn’t a sensational piece of entertainment, it’s an in-depth exploration of the events that shook a nation to its core. It’s a series that makes you wonder how inventive these kind of monsters would have to be today, with the internet, media and security constantly keeping an eye on us. The 1980’s were a different time, and director Tiller Russell captivates that period by stylishly blending different forms of media into one perfectly directed and cohesive four-part series, supported by a thrilling score and effective editing.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is one of the most spellbinding true crime docuseries that has been produced by Netflix to date. Not only is it uncomfortable from start to finish, it’s horror in its purest form. Watch with caution.
Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is available to stream on Netflix January 13.
Netflix Review – ‘Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer’
Reviewed online (screener provided by Netflix), January 7, 2021. Rating: R. Running time: 4 x 50 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netlix release of an IPC production. Executive producers: Tiller Russell, Tim Walsh, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, .
CREW: Directors: Tiller Russell. Editing: Chris Walldorf, Rogerio Abraldes, Ed Greene, Greg Tillman. Cinematography: Nicola Marsh. Score: Brooke Blair, Will Blair.