Sunday 17 June 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

This is the first in a series of posts on the Golden State Killer, beginning with a review of Michelle McNamara's non-fiction book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. The book was published posthumously in February 2018, almost two years after her death. It was updated and finalized by true crime writer Paul Haynes and her widower, the actor Patton Oswalt.

As a teenager, Michelle was deeply affected by the unsolved murder of Kathleen Lombardo two blocks from her own home. This murder shaped not only her passionate interest in crime-solving, but also her compassion for the victims of crime. This compassion is apparent throughout her book and, I think, is responsible for making I'll Be Gone in the Dark such a compelling read.

Michelle McNamara started her website True Crime Diary in 2006, establishing a network of crime researchers, as well as writing numerous articles relating to unsolved crimes. She used 21st century technology to bring to light possible clues to a killer's identity. It was Michelle herself who coined the phrase Golden State Killer after authorities connected the crimes of the Original Night Stalker and the East Area Rapist through DNA analysis. As a serial killer, rapist, and burglar, he committed at least 12 murders, 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California between 1974 and 1986. He is thought to have begun as a burglar known as the Visalia Ransacker before his crimes escalated to rape and murder.

The author's observations about her childhood and how she became passionate about unsolved crimes are fascinating in themselves:

...When I meet people and hear where they're from I orientate them in my mind by the nearest unsolved crime.... Mention that you're from Yorktown, Virginia, and I'll forever connect you with the Colonial Parkway, the ribbon of road snaking along the York River where four couples either disappeared or were murdered between 1986 and 1989.

What is remarkable about this book is not only the excellent narrative, but also the author's ability to avoid sensationalizing the crimes and the killer, choosing instead to make us aware of the actual victims, often forgotten in true crime accounts. Michelle McNamara re-creates the crime scenes of the Golden State Killer, always mindful of the small details of the victims' lives, in a manner that creates an intimacy between the author and the reader.

Saturday 2 June 2018

Hereditary: As Scary As The Exorcist?

BBC News is reporting that Hereditary, due to be released in June, is downright scary. Here's an excerpt from their Arts & Entertainment report:

Horror movie Hereditary has become one of 2018's most eagerly anticipated releases after scaring and impressing critics in equal measure.
Actress Toni Collette is coming in for particular praise as a woman whose family has demons in its DNA.
Bustle said it's 'truly unlike anything you've seen before,' while The AV Club called it 'pure emotional terrorism'.
The film is released in the US on 8 June and in the UK a week later.
In his five-star review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote: 'Hereditary tripled my heart rate, prickle-massaged my scalp, cured my hiccups - and pretty much terrified me.'
Collette's 'operatic, hypnotic performance seals the deal every second she's on the screen,' he said.
Referring to next year's film awards season, he added: 'Surely this magnificent actor will get some silverware next February.'
The film's New York-based first-time writer-director Ari Aster has also received acclaim.
Writing in Vox, Alissa Wilkinson said: 'The first time I saw Hereditary I yelped a lot, and very nearly crawled under my seat once or twice.
'What you feel from the start is a sense of real horror, some kind of cross between dismay and disgust, which starts out almost undefinable and builds to a (literal) crescendo by the end.'
The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey wrote: 'The fact Hereditary is being (rightly) talked of as one of the most singularly terrifying, singularly disturbing horror films in years speaks to its unique sense of mood.
'Secrecy, guilt, anguish: Hereditary breeds its own phantoms. Ones which like hang around, to boot. Weeks later, you may step into a dark room, and that chilled feeling will come rushing back: am I truly alone right now?'

For the movie trailer, please click here.