‘Mindhunter’ reviews: David Fincher serial killer drama starring Jonathan Groff is both ‘chilling’ and ‘funny’

The online streaming service Netflix added another title to its glut of original series on October 13, but this one comes with an especially high profile and a powerful pedigree. “Mindhunter” is a fictionalized look at the birth of criminal profiling, following FBI agents (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) who study the minds of serial killers. If that sounds like a dozen police procedurals already on the air, well, this one also happens to be produced and directed by David Fincher.

Not only is Fincher an acclaimed, Oscar nominated (“The Social Network,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), and Emmy winning (“House of Cards”) director, he’s also the filmmaker who cut his teeth on this type of dark crime story. His breakthrough was “Seven” (1995), which he followed with the cult hit “Fight Club” (1999) and then continued with the thrillers “Panic Room” (2002), “Zodiac” (2007), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011), and “Gone Girl” (2014). So he’s well at home in material like this.

Fincher directed four of the 10 episodes of the first season, and the first two were made available to critics for review, and based on those episodes the series is “meticulously directed.” both ‘funny’ and ‘chilling,’ ‘often mesmerizing,’ and “never less than engrossing.” Groff and McCallany’s partnership has a “taut crackle.” They’re “well cast,” and Groff “has an air of innocence and naivete that makes his goody-goody character work.”

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Melanie McFarland (Salon): “In fairness, the two ‘Mindhunter’ episodes provided to critics have more going for them than mere atmosphere, largely thanks to robust performances by Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany, who embody the familiar rookie and veteran cop partnership with a taut crackle.”

Kelly Lawler (USA Today): “‘Mindhunter,’ at least in the first two episodes made available for review, is also meandering … Although scenes are strung together a bit casually, they are lavishly filmed, meticulously directed and scored. Groff and McCallany are well-cast, and Groff has an air of innocence and naiveté that makes his goody-goody character work.”

Ben Travers (IndieWire): “‘Mindhunter’ wants to eradicate the concept of “other” using a figure everyone instinctually wants to distance themselves from: a murderer. This isn’t your typical good vs. evil, cops vs. robbers procedural. If anything, it’s trying to eliminate those conceptions. Sometimes it’s funny. Often it’s chilling. But however you take it, at least ‘Mindhunter’ is working a fresh angle.”

Keith Uhlich (Hollywood Reporter): “Netflix’s often-mesmerizing new FBI profiler series ‘Mindhunter’ isn’t the glum bit of camp that [‘Seven’] was … ‘Mindhunter’ reveals itself as a suspense series hinging on after-the-fact investigations into the heads and hearts of known murderers. Not whodunit so much as whydidyou? And in these two episodes, it’s never less than engrossing.”

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