Serial Killer Culture – Documentary

First of all, I would not recommend this movie to the faint of heart or easily offended.

From now on, I will no longer follow the structure I set out for myself when I first began writing on here. I feel like a more productive way to review the material I watch is in a more organic manner instead of trying to force myself to comment on each separate element, because movies, documentaries, televisions and plays do not always focus on the areas that I originally wanted to discuss.

While scrolling through the documentaries on Netflix, I was searching for ones that sounded familiar from the ones that were suggested to me both a few weeks ago and last year. That is when I came across one titled Serial Killer Culture.  I have always found serial killers interesting, because I cannot imagine the thought process that a killer possesses that allows them to commit all of these horrific crimes. Based off of the description of the movie that was provided, I thought that it would delve into why people in general get intrigued by serial killers through discussion with the thirteen or so different people that were interviewed. Boy, was I wrong. The overall tone I gleaned from the film was that the majority of the artists and collectors just did what they did, because they found the killers to be interesting. There were a few who had scarring occurrences happen to them at some point in their life, from one person who dealt with the murder of a girlfriend to a grown man discussing finding graphic pictures (his father kept of prisoners he mutilated when he was in a war) as a kid.

Now, I have seen several other documentaries before that discuss serial killers, such as Cropsey, and the people had correspondence with the serial killer, but I was under the impression that most of the time it was strictly for the purpose of creating a film or writing a book to document the case. After seeing this movie, I realized there is a group of people who write to these killers just for the heck of it. Some of the artists and collectors will even write to the killers to gain more pieces for their collection.

Serial Killer Culture did have some great moments. One thing brought up towards the end of the film is the use of the term “monsters” to discuss serial killers. The man who discussed this brought up how even though they did these heinous crimes, they are still in fact humans. Quite often people will write killers off as subhuman and vile things, but at the end of the day, they are still real people that just had something snap or happen in their brain that allowed them to commit all of these horrible crimes, and I think that is where the fascination comes from for “normal” people. A “normal” person just wants to understand the inner working of the brain that allows them to pursue these unjust and unlawful actions. It was also brought up earlier in the film that some of the collectors and artists in the film idolize and put the killers on a pedestal, but at the same time news outlets often popularize and make serial killers a household name. People would not even be aware of half of these people if it wasn’t for media sources constant reporting on them.

Despite some good messages here and there, the movie was poorly executed. Every time someone new was introduced the person would get a few lines out and then the frame would freeze and their name with whether they were an artist or a collector would appear accompanied by the same cheesy riff. This got annoying and boring very quickly. The first few clips of the film might make the viewer seasick, because the the camera will constantly zoom in and out and shake as it pans across the collections. This does not happen as frequently later in the film, but that does not mean the cinematography got any better. Lastly, I wish they should have found a wider range of collectors/artists to interview. The film primarily focused on musicians, artists, and collectors. Within each of the categories, the people all seemed like the same type of person. It came across to me that some of the people in the film tried to play up a shock value or tried intentionally to be creepy (the first musician duo has a member that could give Suzanne Warren (played by Uzo Aduba) a run for her money for the title of “Crazy Eyes”). There was one group interviewed that discussed Dahmer tours in Milwaukee, but that was the only stand out as being relatively unique because they were not necessarily artists or collectors, but more like “historians” trying to share his tale and the back story of the places he was active.

I’d give this documentary a 4 out of 10. As someone who does find the topic of serial killers interesting, this film did not keep me that captivated. I kept watching in hopes that it would eventually get better, and some people were more interesting than others, but I felt the order of the interviews was sloppy and some people could have been cut. I actually went to bed before finishing the nearly two hour documentary. The most redeeming moment probably was someone mentioning that they do not want to profit off of the deaths or the sorrow of the family of the victims. The collectors/artists (mostly) want to just share the story and let people know these things have happened. If you’re interested in serial killers, you’ll see some oddities you may not have seen before, but nothing too new or exciting is ever discussed.

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