The Charmer Online

Agnes Bruckner and Jake McDorman in The Craigslist Killer (2011)

Everybody loves Philip Markoff (Jake McDorman) as he is a promising young medical student with a bright future who is in the top 5% of his class and is generous in helping his friends who are struggling with their studies. He is also engaged to Megan (Agnes Bruckner) who in her eyes is absolutely wonderful. What no one realises is that behind the charm Philip is not only a man with confidence issues but also a very dark secret. When the police investigating several murders and robberies discover a link that leads them back to Markoff his online activity and phone records is enough evidence for the police to arrest him.

I read a comment somewhere in relation to "The Craigslist Killer", I don't remember where, but it basically said it was a seriously creepy movie to watch because these things actually happened. That comment made me think as whilst I had heard references to "The Craigslist Killer" on one show or another I knew none of the details and so as I watched this made for TV movie it didn't have the same chilling effect as it did for the person who found it really creepy. And in truth that is true of many of these made for TV movies based on a real crime or the exploits of a real killer as unless you know the detail from reading about it in the paper or seeing it on the news bulletins they don't have the same effect.

So what that means for me when it comes to "The Craigslist Killer" is I watched a well made movie but not one which caused me to want to go digging around for more information. I said well made and much of that is down to the casting of Jack McDorman who brings to the screen the charmer aspect of Markoff quite brilliantly. From the opening scene which sees him helping another student and flirting with another to his courting of Megan as well as his knowledge in the classroom McDorman makes him seem absolutely perfect. And that works well because his seemingly perfection and then the violent side as he visits women he sees advertising online is so contrasting that it makes him intriguing.

But Jack McDorman's performance is the best thing about "The Craigslist Killer" and whilst we see various details from how he met Megan to his shopping spree to buy equipment as well as hollowing out a book to hide a gun it is all similar to stuff you can watch in other true story movies about killers. This is especially the case when it comes to showing him living a double life.

What this all boils down to is that "The Craigslist Killer" is an effective drama and is made in such a way that for those who don't know the details will be kept entertained. But like so many of these movies based on a real crime or the exploits of a real killer "The Craigslist Killer" seems to work better for those already aware of the details.

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