Mindhunter Ed Kemper

Mindhunter, the new Netflix show from producer David Fincher, continues to have life long after its premiere date. While most Netflix shows have a tendency to fade from the zeitgeist after their initial binge-filled weekend, Mindhunter lingers, with more and more people discovering the serial killer drama every day. With these discovers often comes a question: just how accurate is this show? A new video shows that the answer is “very accurate.”

There’s a lot to like about Mindhunter, a show about the birth of criminal profiling as a result of interviews with serial killers. From its cinematic direction to its fascinating subject matter, the show has a way of grabbing hold of the audience. And then there are the performances. Almost everyone on the show is stellar, but one stand-out is Cameron Britton, playing serial killer Edmund Kemper, aka the Co-Ed Killer. It’s the very definition of a scene-stealing performance, and a newly edited video highlights just how eerily spot-on it is.

How Real Is Mindhunter

Cutting back and forth between (and sometimes overlaying) Britton’s performance and a recorded interview with the real Ed Kemper, this video reveals both how precise Britton is at nailing down Kemper’s speech patterns and mannerisms, including the very cadence of his voice, and also how accurate Mindhunter‘s screenplay was at capturing Kemper. The words Kemper says in the real-life video are lifted almost verbatim into Mindhunter. It’s a fascinating look at how much work into getting everything right. On top of that, it makes me want to go back and re-watch Mindhunter from the beginning.

 

Mindhunter cat

What’s The Deal With That Cat Subplot?

One supporting character we never actually see on Mindhunter is a cat that Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) befriends in her apartment building laundry room. Dr. Carr moves to DC to join the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, and one night while running a load of laundry at her new place she hears a series of meows issuing from an the other side of an open basement window. This inspires Carr to start bringing tuna cans for the cat to devour, which it does repeatedly, although again, the cat never makes an on-screen appearance (not that Fincher has been adverse to using actual cats in his work before).

Until it doesn’t. In a moment of brief shock, Carr goes to retrieve what she thinks will be an empty can, only to find it still full and swarming with ants. The implication is clear, though never explicitly stated: the cat is dead. Talking with TV Line (via Collider), Torv had her own interpretation of the series of scenes:

“I always take things a little too [introspectively], so when I first read it in the script I was like, ‘Oh my God, wow, this is actually interesting.’ I thought, ‘This little kitten is representative of all these faceless [victims] and we only notice the ones that are dead because they have families that are looking for them. And then here’s this little abandoned cat that no one is going to care about. And if that was a person, it’d be the same thing.’ That’s what I first thought when I read it, but that’s just because I’m crazy,” Torv adds with a hearty laugh. “I was making it so deep when probably she’s just, you know, feeding a cat.”

Torv later adds that when she ran this theory by Mindhunter producer and director David Fincher, he quickly shot her down:

The actress later ran her theory by Mindhunter exec producer David Fincher, who quickly informed her, ‘Oh… no, that’s not it,’” she guffaws. Fincher then explained to her that the cryptic series of scenes were, at least in part, suggesting to the audience that perhaps “there was a kid in the building who’s going around killing cats. And it’s a birth of a new sociopath that we don’t quite know about. Because that’s how it starts — with [inflicting harm on] animals.”

The cat subplot is incredibly minor in the grand scheme of Mindhunter, but the fact that it’s inspired questions, and the fact that Fincher clearly has answers for those questions already, mixed with the above video, all come together to suggest just how surprisingly detailed this show is as a whole. Mindhunter is now streaming on Netflix.

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