Any self-respecting member of the true crime community will be intimately familiar with the chilling story of the Zodiac Killer. The ciphers and letters sent to the press, the cryptic and taunting phone calls, the tragically unresolved victims’ cases – these are the well-worn threads of a story that’s been analyzed, theorized, and debated countless times over.
From bestselling books to a film starring Robert Downey, Jr., and Jake Gyllenhaal, the story has been served up in detail to the point of becoming part of the true crime zeitgeist.
So while Myth of the Zodiac Killer may be offering a fresh angle on this infamous figure, it’s addressing an audience that already knows the case back to front and isn’t easily swayed. Any new theory has to stand up against a wealth of knowledge and established understanding, making the series’ task all the more daunting.
The series is a deep dive into author Thomas Horan’s controversial theory that the Zodiac Killer, a figure who has cast a long, terrifying shadow over American true crime, might actually be nothing more than a fabrication by an overzealous media and some cunning crime novelists.
Essentially, the show presents us with the hypothesis that the feared Zodiac Killer might just be a Boogeyman-esque figure created to sell newspapers and crime novels.
But here’s the rub: while the concept is intriguing, and the series does an incredible job of piling on the arguments in support of this theory, it’s a theory that often feels about as likely as finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I mean, it’s a tantalizing thought, but as the evidence unfurls and the arguments pile on, the skepticism only seems to grow stronger.
While the series’ dedication to exploring this alternative viewpoint is admirable, you might still find yourself firm in the belief that the Zodiac Killer was, in fact, terrifyingly real.
Nock certainly deserves an A+ for effort. The research is painstakingly in-depth. You can practically feel the passion and effort he’s put into turning every bit of available evidence inside out and examining it under a microscope.
But in this impressive whirlwind of facts and theories, the narrative sometimes becomes so densely packed that it’s akin to reading a mystery novel in a language you barely speak. There are moments when the information is so layered that the narrative thread becomes obscured.
In the first episode of the series, the most memorable scenes arise when director Nock sits down with Jim Crabtree, the ex-husband of Zodiac victim Darlene Ferrin. Horan has fingered Crabtree as the murderer, but his interview isn’t a suspense-filled thriller.
It’s more unexpected and intriguing, thanks to Crabtree’s vibrant personality that adds a spark to the serious narrative. Whether you find him off-putting, amusing, or a bit of both, there’s no denying he keeps things interesting.
So, here’s the takeaway: Myth of the Zodiac Killer is an ambitious, sprawling ride through a sea of controversial theories about an infamous piece of American criminal history. At its best, it serves up tantalizing doubts and alternate viewpoints about a case many of us thought we understood. But at its worst, it feels like an overly complex maze that leaves you yearning for a clear path.
Despite the series’ insistence on pushing Horan’s theory, it might be tough to shake off your belief in the Zodiac Killer’s very real existence. If you’re a true crime enthusiast with a love for challenging theories, or just someone looking for a brain-stimulating binge-watch, then this series is worth your time. Just be prepared for a wild, unpredictable journey.