Weekend Watchlist | Serial Killers

By The Pitt News Staff

Scream (TV series) (Netflix) // Julia Smeltzer, Staff Writer

I hope you’re all caught up on your sleep because after watching the TV series “Scream,” you won’t be catching many z’s at night. Based on the original 1996 film, the spinoff version streaming on Netflix follows a group of teenagers who are slowly being tortured and killed by the Lakewood Slasher. The gory show has claimed three seasons on Netflix, as the first two seasons follow Emma Duval (Willa Fitzgerald) and her friends as they try to uncover who their creepy killer is by digging up the past, but they lose a couple of friends along the way. Wrapping up the scare sesh with the third season, Deion Elliot (RJ Cyler) is haunted not only by his past but also by Ghostface, the mysterious killer who torments Elliot throughout the show. Even though the dialogue and plot can come off as corny and even cringey at times, it is a good watch to get you in the haunted mood for Oct. 31. If you like thrill and suspense and aren’t queasy around blood, this show is for you. You can head over to Netflix and finish the series before Halloween strikes, but I doubt you will be able to sleep with the lights off after watching “Scream.”

Se7en (HBO Max) // Nick Suarez, Staff Writer

Described by its director as a “meditation on evil and how evil gets on you and you can’t get it off,” “Se7en” is no ordinary crime drama or police procedural. The plot follows two police detectives, one who is set to retire (Morgan Freeman), the other new to the job (Brad Pitt) — a classic dynamic — as they chase a religiously inspired serial killer John Doe (played chillingly by the now disgraced actor Kevin Spacey). It is quickly revealed that Doe’s murders, each one based on one of the seven deadly sins, are his way to punish a society he considers fundamentally debased, and while “Se7en” is at this point familiar to many as a film noir classic, it’s one that I consider definitely worth revisiting (if you can stomach it). The gritty urban crime-drama exterior conceals nothing less than a medieval morality play for the modern era, and the zealously deranged killer’s approach to his last two murders — corresponding to envy and wrath — neatly inverts the patterns of the preceding ritual homicides. The film ends with a powerful depiction of evil as a force that is nothing more than a pathetic jealousy of good, yet also one capable of destroying and subverting the very goodness that it is supposedly overshadowed by.

Hannibal (Netflix) // Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

By God I am not supposed to like Hannibal Lecter, but watching this show, I have to say I do. “Hannibal” — which ran from 2013-15 on NBC and was tragically cancelled after its third season — is probably one of the best thriller/horror series ever to air on television. The show’s star is actually not Lecter, the notorious cannibalistic serial killer featured in the 1991 film “The Silence of the Lambs.” The star instead is an FBI special investigator named Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who has a particular kind of empathy disorder that allows him to step into the mindset of any person on earth, including serial killers. When Graham is dropped in the middle of a particularly brutal serial killer case, he is given a psychiatrist to stabilize his mental state, one Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played brilliantly by Mads Mikkelsen. What’s most captivating about this series isn’t the increasingly creative and gut-roiling murders committed by Lecter and his fellow psychopaths but the relationship between the two leads. Dancy and Mikkelsen dive deep into the human psyche together, and spend much of the series manipulating one another to suit their own needs. But what is most horrifying, and I’ll even go as far to say fascinating, is that what they eventually come to need most is each other.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (Netflix) // Hayley Lesh, Staff Writer

Zac Efron is a “High School Musical” star no longer. In fact, he is quite the opposite in the 2019 film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” For this thrilling crime movie, Efron takes on the persona of Ted Bundy, the notorious real-life serial killer. “Extremely Wicked” centers on Bundy’s chilling killing spree and the infamous trial that unfolds after his eventual arrest. However, the film also highlights Bundy’s relationship with Elizabeth Kendall (Lily Collins). Despite Bundy’s seemingly normal appearance, Kendall becomes increasingly suspicious of Bundy’s involvement in the murders, which is more vicious than Kendall believed possible. Although the storyline centers on Bundy’s life during the time of the murders, “Extremely Wicked” remains a thrilling watch. Both Efron and Collins put on amazing performances that do not stray from the gravity of the murders nor the plot of the film. It is difficult to say that this movie is the most accurate representation of the Bundy murders. As with most movies, there is creative leeway. Yet, “Extremely Wicked” still produces a sense of horror and disgust that is hard for the viewer to deny. It is interesting to see how this film transforms the Bundy case into an onscreen display of wickedness, cruelty and deceit.

The House That Jack Built (Hulu) // Simon Sweeney, Staff Writer

Lars von Trier is, to many minds, overly concerned with provocation. His films are often grim and violent, featuring tragedy starkly depicted, free of separating stylization. In “The House That Jack Built,” which was released in 2018 to controversy surrounding (surprise!) what some deemed excessive violence, von Trier examines serial killer Jack (Matt Dillon) via five case studies he presents to the famous poet Virgil, who has come to guide him to Hell. This might sound like a lot to put up with, and it is, especially as it becomes clear that von Trier is, like Jack, examining himself in retrospective –– at one point, as Jack waxes nihilistic, a montage of von Trier’s previous films plays to exemplify the wide range of the human condition. It’s all this solipsistic monologuing that makes the alternating mode the movie works in that much better — the David Bowie funk-rock classic “Fame” soundtracking Jack’s gruesome murders. These murders aren’t fun to watch –– they’re appropriately horrifying –– but they are an entry into Jack’s mind, a test case for von Trier’s own anxieties as an artist. Jack sees himself as an architect searching futilely for the perfect material to build his masterpiece from, and von Trier sees himself in this completely warped character he’s created. It’s fascinating to see what he does once he’s realized it.