Serial killer (amongst other labels) Richard Ramirez AKA the Nightstalker has been portrayed on the big and little screen many times over the years. However, for a case so complicated and so foul, it was high time the serial killer’s story got the in-depth docuseries treatment.
Tiller Russell’s Nightstalker: The Hunt For Serial Killer is a focused look at the full case history of the crimes committed by Ramirez, including first-hand accounts from detectives, witnesses and news reporters. The series itself incorporates archive clips, photo evidence and first hand accounts to weave a thriller-esque experience out of a documentary.
The American style of the documentary can sometimes feel a little over the top (when there’s voice over with a cut to the interviewee doing something that was obviously in between takes but fits the dramatic narrative), and some of the graphics lent themselves more to a computer game than crime scene renderings.
The general graphics and music at times also felt counterproductive to the general tone. However, the series is thorough, and not only shows an in-depth analysis of the case, but also shows the intricacies of detective work and the power of community.
Tiller did an incredible job of assembling family members of victims and survivors of Ramirez ,which humanised the victims, lifting them above the crime photos and remembering them as people, celebrating their lives (difficult to assemble that many I’m sure with such a high victim rate).
If you’re looking for a Netflix binge, then I do not recommend this series. Each episode needs to be digested and reflected on before the next. They are intense, and I’m sure bring up a lot of memories and emotions for people who remember the case.
If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of true crime and the frustrations of catching a killer, this is for you.
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