Review of Netflix’s Night Stalker

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(Artwork/Lauren Chase’23)

Sanjana Paramesh, Online Opinions Editor

*Trigger Warning: violence, crime, sexual violence

Richard Ramirez, more commonly known as the Night Stalker, was one of Los Angeles’ most infamous criminals who terrorized over 43 people and their families. The Netflix docuseries, Night Stalker,  tells the chilling story of the murderer, rapist, and pedophile that instilled fear in all of Los Angeles in 1985. The way the story is told through the lens of the homicide detectives who worked the case, surviving victims, family members of deceased victims, and then-reporters, sets this series apart from other true crime documentaries, such as the 2019 Ted Bundy series “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”  By telling the story through first-hand perspectives, the series makes the harsh brutality of the events all the more real for viewers. 

The story is told primarily through the perspective of Gil Carillo, a young detective at the time responsible for finding the link between Ramirez’s separate murder cases, and his partner Frank Salerno, a famed detective known for solving the Hillside Strangler case just six years prior to the Night Stalker case. They note that it was difficult to classify the crimes as a serial case due to their disorganization–a key aspect of the case. Known for having no pattern, The Night Stalker attacked elderly women, children of all ages, and middle-aged women and men with varying weapons such as guns, knives, hammers, and more. It is truly a notorious case whose story was told in a well-crafted manner. 

As a viewer and true crime enthusiast, the use of interviews and old recordings, with some acting to visualize certain testimonies, is what led me to binge-watch the four-episode series. One truly feels transported to the scene, and it feels as though you are solving the case along with Carillo and Salerno. What truly caught my attention was hearing accounts from survivors who were children at the time they were attacked, reporters who covered the case during a time when the media was starting to gain more viewership, and family members who testified in 1985 and did so again 35 years later. While a gripping aspect, the graphic nature of the story and images can be quite disturbing for some. The show itself is rated TV-MA, citing nudity, sexual violence, language, and smoking.If you are not the “horror film” type or cannot stomach depictions of murder or violence, I suggest you refrain from watching the series. That being said, if you are thinking of watching a true crime show, I highly recommend Night Stalker.

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