Netflix has a pretty strong pedigree in the true crime genre. They’ve made quite a few great limited series like Tiger King, or the reboot of Unsolved Mysteries. Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer takes the crown. Simply put, it’s one of the best true crime documentaries out there. If you are any kind of fan of the genre, you owe it to yourself to watch this. Going into it, I didn’t know much about the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. I knew that he terrorized Southern California for a time in the 80’s, and he got caught. That’s about it.
What I didn’t know was how deep the case went, the work that the detectives put in, the roadblocks they had along the way, and much more. This limited series documentary fills in all the blanks that you might have and then some.
Over the course of four forty-five minute episodes you learn the extent of the crimes committed by the Night Stalker and just the lengths that detectives had to go through to catch him.
The Main Players Really Steal The Show
Our two main investigators are Frank Salerno and Gil Carrillo of the Los Angeles Police Department. For a series about the Night Stalker, the first two episodes contain no real mention of the man. Sure, we hear about his crimes and from some of the victims that escaped his attacks, but the name Richard Ramirez isn’t spoken until later. It’s touches like that, that allow for these other characters to resonate with the audience more. You might think that these two detectives are going to be portrayed as Dirty Harry types that chew the interviews up. It’s far from that. Especially Gil Carrillo, who just steals the entire documentary with his recounting of the whole ordeal involving Ramirez.
The story of how these two end up being partners together is also another highlight of the four episodes. There are small clues sprinkled throughout the time before Ramirez was known to be the killer and those moments are tense. What I especially liked is that the series brings in everyone involved in the case.
The Media Played A Large Part In This Manhunt And Investigation
The story of the media acting as almost a roadblock is almost as interesting as the story of the Night Stalker. In particular, the tactics used by Laurel Erikson to get the story that she wanted. The section involving how she secured an expose with Carrillo and Salerno is fascinating from a media perspective. Normally the police involved in the case are pretty disdainful of the media’s role in the whole investigation and manhunt. In Night Stalker‘s case, they play an active role in his thrilling capture that highlights the final of the four episodes.
It’s All About Richard Ramirez Though, And He’s Front And Center
After all, the entire limited series is named after him, and in the series’ final act, he’s front and center. Richard Ramirez is depicted as the Rockstar serial killer here. Now, that doesn’t mean that he’s glorified by the creators of the show. But at the time, he was quite the figure in popular culture. He was everywhere during his manhunt and he was everywhere during his trial. I won’t spoil anything about the final half of the last episode, but a lot of what people treated him like, will shock you.
It wraps the entire limited series up pretty poignantly with Gil Carrillo beginning the series and being the last one to speak on the matter. His victims and their families get the time that they deserve to air their grievances at the man who ultimately died in prison instead of facing his entire term. Richard Ramirez was ultimately fascinated with the serial killers of the past in the United States and while he didn’t model his crimes off anyone else, he was determined to enter the mind’s of American culture like they did.
Night Stalker Is One Of Netflix’s Best Series
Night Stalker: The Hunt For A Serial Killer is truly one of the finest examples of the true crime genre out there. If Netflix and the team behind this one can replicate it with other crimes or killers throughout history, it would be wise. People might know the names and acts of these horrible people throughout our history. It’s well worth it to learn more about what went on behind the scenes. The investigation, the manhunt, the people involved, they’re all important pieces to this overall puzzle.
Night Stalker releases January 13th on Netflix.
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