Review: Netflix Original, Night Stalker

Night Stalker is a new documentary from Netflix.

Riveting isn't a word strong enough to descibe this compelling film. Don't watch it at night and alone.

The documentary intermixes dramatic recreations, archival footage, and interview segments featuring the two cops who ultimately became the ones in charge of the investigation.

Other interview segments with some who survived the Night Stalker's attack, the media personnel who covered the story, and others involved in some way with the investigation  contribute to the innate drama of the content.

The result is a film that's so compelling that you cannot stop  watching even when you'd like to look away from the excessive gore and blood.

The two police officers—Frank Salerno, the veteran detective who worked the Hillside Strangler serial killings, and Gil Carrillo, younger but no less experienced cop who brings his gut instinct to the investigation—relate their step by step investigation as they hunted the murderer, Richard Ramirez.

Ramirez was different from other serial killers. He didn't have a preferred type for a victim. He sexually assaulted children and adults; he killed children and adults of both sexes and of every ethnicity. I guess one could say his type was other human beings.


Other critics deplore the blood splashed across many of the scenes, and the close-up visuals of victims while some critics say the documentary isn't very compelling or horrible in light of the murders in the last couple of decades.

I'm not much for gory murder scenes, and I hate horror movies. The film's menace doesn't come from the artistic cinematography and splashed blood, but from the fact that the story being told is true. The victims were real people. The survivors are still haunted by their encounter with Ramirez.

The film reveals the Ramirez's horrible childhood that made him the monster he was. No one should be abused as he was, but that does not mean he should be exempt from punishment for his evil. 

There's a great article on LAist, about how this Netflix documentary came into being.

Watch this documentary that details the commitment to protecting and serving that many cops have. Watch it to see the problems faced in serial murder cases. Watch it to see how cops really worked in the mid-1980s before DNA and computers were tools at their disposal—when dogged determination solved crimes.

Takeaway Truth

If nothing else, watching this documentary is a lesson that we all need to develop better situational awareness even in our homes. 

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