The November 13, 2018 Lionsgate DVD release of the 2017 Investigation Discovery docudrama "Dating Game Killer" offers awesomely nostalgic not-so-guilty-pleasure fun. The titular murderer/excitable boy Rodney Alcala (Guillermo Diaz) interrupts his at least decade-long killing spree to compete on the titular game show in the late '70s. It is estimated that his total body count is approximately 130.
Diaz ("Scandal") does such a good job playing a seducer/lurer of girls and women who range roughly from 8 through mid-20s that the audience gets a strong sense of watching Alcala himself. The impact of this performance includes Alcala fitting the pattern of being quirky but not not so outwardly creepy to raise suspicions.
The victim who changes everything for Alcala is a young girl in the late '60s. Police detective Jim Hamell (Robert Knepper of "Prison Break") is at the right place at the right time in that he sees Alcala zero in on the girl when Hamell stops to use a pay phone. The spidey sense of Hamell results in hot pursuit that still is too late to save the girl.
The narrative shifts ahead 10 years; photographer Alcala (of course) lives with his blissfully ignorant mother and is fresh off his national television debut. This also coincides with Alcala perving on two teen girls at the beach.
The audience (and a not-so-good Samaritan) know that Alcala is keeping one of the teens at a wilderness area; we also know that the girl suffers her inevitable fate. The rest of the world only knows that the girl is missing and that a sketch of the man at the beach is a good likeness of that individual.
This incident ties "Killer" together, The circumstances of the case adequately mirror the modus operandi of Alcala to prompt Hamell to come on the scene and impose his services on investigating officer Detective Ryan (Matt Barr). Hamell briefing his new partner-in-crime-solving on the activities of Alcala in the interim between the cold case and the warm one is an effective exposition tool. A primary aspect of this is the legal system repeatedly setting Alcala free to keep preying on women. A '70s element is the clear message that you do not want to get Alcala angry (or scorned).
A really creepy period between the two crimes around which "Killer" centers around is a WTF stint as a photographer at girls' camp in New York state. The shock and awe commences with learning that an adult male manages to use a fake name to obtain a job that allows him largely unfettered access to underage girls. The disbelief continues with Alcala keeping that job after figuratively triggering enough red flags to be visible from space,
"Killer" provides the additional perspective of Carol Jensen (Carrie Preston of "True Blood"), who is the mother of the missing girl. Having a child suddenly vanish without a trace is adequately traumatic; not knowing the fate of that offspring greatly compounds the issue; being certain of the identity of the perpetrator but the proof being insufficient to even bring him in for questioning seems unbearable.
Hamell and Ryan subsequently and literally keep their distance as they watch Alcala to the legally allowed extent. This results in Ryan increasingly embracing the cause of making his suspect a guest of the state.
"Killer" literally saves the best for last in focusing on the legal proceedings that ultimately determine the fate of Alcala. The awesomeness of this includes virtually every entertaining aspect of the Hollywood depictions of trials, This further demonstrates that context is everything regarding whether such developments are amusing, pathetic, or tragic,
The effectiveness of "Killer" relates to the story sadly being one with which the viewing public is very aware; the distinguishing elements are the quality of the people in front of and behind the camera.
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