Serial killers are one of the most disturbing yet also most fascinating topics in fiction. The fact that a person can go on a rampage and kill several people without a single ounce of remorse or guilt is something that, for most of us, feels completely alien. It is something that cannot be easily comprehended, if at all. And yet, people like that live out there, lurking in the shadows while they think about their next victim, their next crime, and while only a few execute on these thoughts, they are enough to create something terrifying.
Netflix tackled the subject in the amazing series “Mindhunter” created by David Fincher, but sadly, that series was quietly canceled. So, in its place, other streaming services have been working on the subject. Apple+ is doing it right now with the excellent Black Bird. However, Netflix has opted for a cheaper solution, as the streaming service has been doubling down on its documentary series on the topic. There are so many disturbing cases around the world, that it seems Netflix has enough material for ages.
The output of these documentary series might have become too regular. Every single week there is a new disturbing case with its own series, but it would be a lie to say these cases are not only fascinating but also entertaining. These documentaries really know how to tickle these dark sections of our own curiosity. In this case, it is the turn of India, a country that has seen very little of the serial killer phenomenon, thus making them rookies on the subject. This lack of experience proved to be fatal.
Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi is a documentary series directed by Ayesha Sood. The documentary tells the story of the Butcher of Delhi. This is a scary serial killer that ended the lives of dozens of people in the search for his own version of twisted justice. The documentary uses a series of interviews and recreations to explain the facts of the case and give us a glimpse into the mind of this very disturbed individual and the acts he committed.
Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi works very similarly to many of the other documentary series that Netflix has been delivering as of late. The use of interviews to deliver most of the exposition on the case feels a bit dated. At this point in the evolution of the documentary genre, directors have found new ways to tell a story. However, if it is broken, do not fix it. That seems to be the way things are done on Netflix at the moment. The interviews work, to a point.
There are many times during the documentary when information is being delivered as if it was meant to be some kind of great revelation, but because the information is delivered twice, it comes off as redundant. For example, in one of the recreations, the killer might have written in a letter something like “I will kill”. Then an expert in the field comes into an interview setting to say something like, “This tells us he plans to kill.” The revelation is so obvious that it seems kind of dumb at points, and it happens several times.
The recreations might be the best part of the show. They give us a glimpse into how some events occurred and how the police managed to do their work during the investigation. The documentary really doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to delivering a clear assessment of the police’s capacity to deal with a case like this. More often than not, the police are depicted as lost, incapable, and prideful. So, the documentary doesn’t really come off as a heroic tale, but as one of tragedy.
The case itself is quite interesting. The documentary series only runs for three episodes, and all of them have an average running time of 40 minutes. This makes the show an easy binge-watch. While, as we said before, some information is a bit redundant, most of the details are revealed at a good pace, so there is always something new to learn and analyze. This formula seems to be the perfect way to deliver these types of stories in the documentary series format.
How long can Netflix sustain these types of shows? Only time will tell, but because they are so easy to watch and reveal just enough to keep us interested from beginning to end, it might be that there are still a lot more documentary series on the way. None of these documentaries will win any awards. We are not in front of a Wild Wild Country here, but either way, they keep the audience happy and entertained and that is what really matters to Netflix during these hard times.
Indian Predator: The Butcher of Delhi is entertaining and shows the serial killer phenomenon outside the United States, where most of these stories end up taking place. It might not be one of the best documentaries on Netflix, but it is good enough to keep you watching for the entirety of its three episodes.