Despite a cancellation after just two seasons, Mindhunter remains one of Netflix’s best received television shows. Across the show, fictionalized versions of prolific serial killers appeared, being interviewed by the FBI. Through careful direction and amazing writing, the series really allowed viewers to get inside the mind of these killers.
The show’s early cancellation left true crime fans craving for more. Showrunner and frequent director David Fincher told Variety, “It had a very passionate audience, but we never got the numbers that justified the cost.” While this statement makes it seem the show may be truly over, there are plenty of other great movies featuring serial killers for fans of the genre to enjoy.
10 Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Casting Zac Efron as real-life killer Ted Bundy was initially met with skepticism due to his image of being a teen heartthrob. However, once the film gets started, Efron absolutely disappears into the role. While most films featuring serial killers usually show graphic depictions of the murders, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile switches things up by not showing any of Bundy’s murders and instead focuses on his legal proceedings and his battle to maintain his innocence. The film does a great job of going into his mind without showing any of the carnage his victims faced.
9 Se7en (1995)
Also directed by the very talented David Fincher, Se7en is a very chilling experience. Against the backdrop of a dark and rainy metropolis, Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman play two detectives as they investigate multiple killings inspired by the Seven Deadly Sins. Both the killer’s motives and the way his brain works are carefully studied throughout the film, without including the killer for most of it. The film is extremely eery and does a great job at showing the psychological effects certain cases have on police.
8 Citizen X (1995)
Although a television film, Citizen X was produced by HBO and features amazing big-screen production quality. The film is a terrifying look into the mind of Russian serial killer Andrei Chikatilo who took the lives of multiple women and children from 1978 to 1990. Citizen X also covers the long investigation and efforts to capture Chikatilo by Soviet Detectives, played by Stephen Rea and Donald Sutherland. Through brilliant writing and directing from Chris Gerolm0, the film is definitely a serial killer movie worth watching.
7 The Little Things (2021)
For years, The Little Things was stuck in development hell. Written by John Lee Hancock, Steven Spielberg originally intended to direct it but he later dropped out, feeling the project was too dark, per Deadline. Hancock eventually directed the film and it was finally released in 2021. The film is a real slow burn but features amazing performances from Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, and Jared Leto that might it worth the watch. The film has a major plot twist too, so it’s definitely best to go in blind.
6 The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Inspired by real-life serial killer Harry Powers who would lure widows through newspaper ads, The Night of the Hunter follows serial killer Harry Powell, who charms widows as well, but under the guise of a preacher. The film is most notable for the iconic tattoos Powell has on his knuckles that read “LOVE” and “HATE.” Although most films by the ’50s were in color, the creators of The Night of the Hunter made the decision to shoot in black-and-white. The decision honestly paid off as even without color, the cinematography is just spectacular. It is without a doubt one of the best movies of the ’50s.
5 American Psycho (2000)
Of any film that has spawned memes based on it, American Psycho is perhaps the biggest surprise. Despite featuring brutal killings, many people online have ironically attributed Patrick Bateman’s lifestyle to the “sigma grindset.” Before Christian Bale was cast, both Ewan McGregor and Leonardo DiCaprio were circling the role but eventually left talks early on in pre-production (per Cheatsheet). Due to the particular edge he brings to the role, it’s hard to imagine anybody but Bale in the title role.
4 Red Dragon (2002)
While The Silence of the Lambs is so well-known and usually viewed as the serial killer movie to watch, many are missing out on the film’s prequel Red Dragon, following another killed named Francis Dolarhyde/The Tooth Fairy. The film explains the events that lead to Hannibal Lecter’s incarceration in The Silence of the Lambs. Featuring yet another spellbinding performance as Lecter from Anthony Hopkins, he was accompanied by new cast members Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes. While it doesn’t have the same nuance as the original film, it’s arguably way more thrilling and exciting.
3 Creep (2014)
Creep really uses its found-footage format to the best of its ability. Fans who liked Spree will certainly enjoy this film. Directed and starring Jackson Brice, the film follows a videographer named Aaron as he believes he is recording a video diary for a dying man. Josef, to show to his unborn child once he passes. During the course of the film, Aaron begins to feel very uneasy as he gets to know more about Josef. It’s a darkly hilarious film and shows that even with no budget at all, a great film can be made.
2 My Friend Dahmer (2017)
Jeffrey Dahmer remains one of the most prolific serial killers from the United States. My Friend Dahmer focuses on Dahmer’s final year of high school and his friendship with John Backderf, who would later write the comic/memoir of the same name, on which the film is based. The film stars former Disney star Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer. He completely disappears into the role and is unrecognizable. My Friend Dahmer dives deep into Dahmer’s psychology and shows what lead him down a dark path.
1 Zodiac (2007)
Yet another entry on this list from David Fincher, there are few films that have gone as in-depth into criminal cases as Zodiac has. Thanks to one of the greatest screenplays ever written, from James Vanderbilt and the careful direction from David Fincher, Zodiac succeeds on every level. The film also features a star-studded cast of MCU veterans, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo in the lead roles. As it features elements from various genres such as horror, drama, action, and even some comedy at times, Zodiac is definitely the quintessential serial killer movie to watch.