NIGHT STALKER: THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER is a new Netflix documentary series in the true-crime subgenre. With just four 45-minute episodes, it’s a quick binge-watch. It’s not perfect, but I liked the focus on victims. Read our Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer review here!

NIGHT STALKER: THE HUNT FOR A SERIAL KILLER is a new Netflix true-crime documentary series in 4 parts. This docu-series has just four 45-minute episodes which makes it very easy to watch. Also, I enjoyed the chronological approach in this Netflix series.

What surprised me the most turned out to be the fact that the Night Stalker also attacked and violated children – both boys and girls. However, since he didn’t kill them these cases are not part of his serial killer history. Maybe that’s why this particular element of his criminal “career” hasn’t been widely publicized.

Continue reading our Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer series review below.

A solid focus on the victims

My main issue with this docu-series becomes evident from episode three. The first two episodes are okay for the most part which is especially due to the fact that the focus is on the victims of the crimes. From episode three, the hero-aspect becomes very heavy-handed.

Episode 4 of Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is mostly about the Night Stalker himself: Richard Ramirez. However, in this case, I also feel that we get a very amputated portrayal of him. Hey, I am all for keeping a focus on the victims. Still, when you do decide to focus on the perpetrator, then you have to give us more than a very shallow rundown of his life.

A lot of time is spent on the fact that many women sent him “fan mail” and that he had groupies. This is always the case with any serial killer (or other highly publicized cases). This has nothing to do with “the hunt for a serial killer” though. To me, the time would have been better spent on telling us about Richard Ramirez – or more about the victims instead!

Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer – Netflix Review

Good cops versus bad guys!

The fact that this documentary uses music to evoke emotion becomes way too extreme for me. At one point, a detective is (very proudly) explaining that he hit an informant and threatened to pummel him, which made him give up the name “Richard Ramirez”. Obviously, this was an important breakthrough, but the officer is way too proud of his own tactics for my liking.

The picture of the informant looking terrified and (at least mentally) beaten, doesn’t exactly help the detective. Especially since he paints the informant as being very flippant and indifferent to helping.

Now, I recognize the fact that police officers worked somewhat differently in the 1980s (though many recent cases would suggest not much have changed). However, the fact that this officer is clearly still very proud of his physical actions speak volumes. Again, this is especially highlighted by the fact that the music accompanying this declaration is worthy of a Michael Bay movie!

Watch the Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer docu-series on Netflix!

Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is directed by Tiller Russell and executive produced by Russell, Tim Walsh, Eli Holzman, and Aaron Saidman. Overall, I found it to be very entertaining but ultimately lacking in getting all the facts across. Mostly about Richard Ramirez himself when it’s ultimately wrapped up a bit rushed in the final episode.

All in all, Night Stalker: Hunt for a Serial Killer is clearly meant to paint the detectives as heroes. They do nothing wrong and whenever an error occurs, it’s due to someone else doing shoddy work. And yes, errors are made that are outside of their control, but I’m guessing they made some wrong guesses along the way as well.

This just isn’t mentioned which makes the tale very one-sided.

But hey, we all know that history is told by the victors. And while I certainly have no warm feelings for Richard Ramirez or his despicable and brutal acts of violence, I do feel that this is a very unnuanced look at the events surrounding this “hunt for a serial killer”. Still, if you enjoy true-crime documentaries, then this series is definitely worth checking out on Netflix.

Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer is out on Netflix from January 13, 2020.

Plot

In the summer of 1985, a record-breaking heatwave hit Los Angeles, along with a series of murders and sexual assaults that at first seemed disconnected. The victims were men, women, and children. They ranged in age from 6 to 82. They came from different neighborhoods, racial backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.

Never before in criminal history had a single killer been responsible for such a grisly array of crimes. A young detective named Gil Carrillo from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the legendary homicide investigator Frank Salerno are tasked with catching the serial killer.

Told through harrowing first-person interviews, gripping archival footage and spectacular original photography, this four-part series represents the definitive telling of this iconic L.A. real-life horror story. Along the way, painting a portrait of how it felt to live in fear at a time when absolutely anyone could be the next victim of Night Stalker.

Karina
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