In the first episode of HBO’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, a person jokingly tells author Michelle McNamara she will never be out of work since killing will be around forever. It is a tasteless joke that has a strong ring of truth to it. The popularity of true crime documentaries and podcasts are proof that not only are there still murders, but there is an audience who wants to hear about them. The latest true crime docuseries is an incredibly interesting story with flawed production.
The Golden State Killer (sometimes referred to as the East Area Rapist or the Original Night Stalker) terrorized California from 1974-1986. During this time, he committed thirteen murders and over fifty rapes. He was never caught. In the 21st century, a new investigation was begun by McNamara using modern technology mixed with old clues.
The case is interesting in the way that most of these types of things are. Throughout I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, maps are shown of where the Golden State Killer committed his crimes. If the acts are not scary enough themselves, the proximity of them will constantly have viewers shaking their heads. Some of the crimes are in the same area and even on the same street. It is just one example of how police investigations have changed over the decades.
The series is not just investigation into the Golden State Killer. Through writings and interviews, it is also a look at McNamara herself. These are some of the best parts of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. In fiction, it is not strange for the audience to get to know both sides of an investigation. In documentaries, the criminal has the spotlight to themselves. The most viewers will get to know about those investigating is how dedicated they are.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is an intimate look at McNamara. Husband Patton Oswalt is very open in many interviews. The docuseries goes into how she got into the case (and true crime, in general) and how she amassed so many clues. The level of her obsession (this is how she described it) can also be frightening at times. Good and bad, it is a testament to her dedication to solving the case.
As interesting as the players are, the series does have a disjointed feeling to it at times. There never seems to be a clear theme for any of the episodes. There is a lot to cover regarding the case and the people involved and sometimes I’ll Be Gone in the Dark tries to fit everything in. That being said, this is a true crime documentary that is interesting and frightening.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark premieres June 28th on HBO.
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