How to be a serial killer (on TV) | Feature | Television

DexterSince it’s almost Halloween* we thought it would be fun to turn our thoughts to the darkness within, namely the serial killers of the silver screen and what we can learn from their successes and failures.

(*Disclaimer – Depending on when this is actually being read it may or may not be Halloween, This Is Entertainment makes no apologies for diminished enjoyment of the following editorial. Also, killing people is bad, so no, you may not try this at home.)

From Dexter to Hannibal, Red John to Henry Grace, there are many killers at large on the box and all of them have their own methods, motives and characteristics which help them succeed, or lead to their downfall.

Keep your friends closer

DexterAll serial killers have something in common, aside from just being murderers, in that the act of taking a life has a purpose.

It might be because they ‘need’ to kill, it might be because they enjoy it or because they want to show everyone how clever they are. Regardless of how they feel about killing, almost all need a cover story to maintain the appearance of a ‘normal’ life.

For Dexter Morgan, the titular anti-hero of Dexter (Michael C. Hall), his cover comes both in the form of his job and his sister Debra. Staying close to Debra is what helps to hide Dexter’s darkness from the rest of the world.

In this year’s TV adaptation of Red Dragon – Hannibal – the character of Hannibal Lecter remains hidden by getting close to the person most likely to find him.

The impression of the person they are, the disguise, is almost as important as their true self. This is one thing you must master, to be in with any chance at all.

Don’t bite off more than you chew

The MentalistWhen killers worlds start to unravel is when they are trying to do too many things at once.

A pretty important tip for any budding serial killer is to only try to take out one victim at a time.

Some of the hairiest situation for Dexter have been when he has to kill another person to cover up the first murder.

Control is very important for these sociopathic personalities, and as soon as things start to get out of hand, you will quickly see them get more brutal and frantic.

Make sure you have a plan and stick to it, even if that voice in your head says differently.

Be wary of exploring new things

Colin Hanks in DexterWith an incapability to feel genuine emotion, there is always a temptation for serial killers to yearn after what they cannot have.

Often from their perspective, things like love, attachment, family are all distractions which make things more complicated, and hold little worth in the long run.

In reality the success at which these aspects can offer value varies greatly, but bigger social topics such as religion, addiction, celebrity have numerous new experiences and possibilities attached to them.

However tempting it might be to believe that these things can give you a way out, don’t be fooled – for a serial killer, almost everything comes back to secrets.

Always get rid of the evidence

Criminal MindsIf you don’t fancy eating them, make sure you are well-versed in how one might go and hide a body, since the past is always poised to come back to haunt you at any moment in unexpected ways.

It may be much to have a wide array of recipes to cater for whatever organ you fancy cooking up that particular day, but you do have to have a system. Do you keep everything together? Store it for a while or dispose of it all at once?

There’s no absolute certain way to not have bodies traced back to you, but some care and patience goes a long way. After all, there’s more than enough CSI-type shows looking for your DNA.

Don’t get caught

Dexter caught by DebLearning how the police work, or even steering the investigation yourself, are sure-fire ways to stay ahead of the game.

Of course, the more you learn, the more they have to learn to catch up and the harder the job of remaining hidden becomes.

Never get sucked into sacrificing anything for anyone but yourself, in the end it’s you against the world. If a few more people have to die to get you out of a situation then what’s a few more bodies? What’s one more?

Dr Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen)Obviously, the way to really survive is to make it on TV. There you can be immortalised for years to come with all of your great achievements laid out. The reason that serial killers continue to be popular, even rooted for and loved despite being horrible, evil people, is because they fascinate us.

It is difficult to understand or appreciate why or how someone would be so destructive as to dissect so many people’s lives. Not being able to feel emotions that we all experience daily for ridiculous things – that rush of fear as you almost slip on the way down the stairs for example – serial killers are something which we all in some ways admire, even at the same time as being appalled by them.

You can’t imagine rooting for Darth Vader or Skelator in quite the same way as you want these people to get away with it. In many ways it’s the birthplace of ‘the lovable villain’. Can you imagine the attendees at Comic Con cheering Loki if it wasn’t for Tom Hiddleston’s charisma and charm?

Will Graham, Hannibal (2013)Perhaps this is also where the love for Halloween itself comes from. The excitement and the fun of mocking the darkness and the evil with chocolate treats and silly costumes makes it all seem less frightening and less horrific, when really if you look closer and see the truth of what it represents you would run for your life.

So the next time you think it would just be easier to kill everyone and be done with it, throwing morals and reason out the window in favour of a simpler life of black and white, good and evil. But remember, in the end, it isn’t quite so simple as that.

What are your top tips? Leave a comment below, but be careful not to give away too much…

James Michael Parry

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