Zodiac Directed by: David Fincher Written by: James Vanderbilt (screenplay), Robert Graysmith (book) Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and John Carroll Lynch
Unsolved murders haunt us. As the detective played by Mark Ruffalo remarks at one point in Zodiac, there were 200 murders committed since a serial killer left his brutal mark on the zeitgeist. Those murders were explained, though, and as a result they are boring to us.
There are several fictionalized versions of the story of The Zodiac Killer, because finding a narrative that rewards a viewer would be daunting and it would miss the point. This is a story that is not about rewards. There is obsession laced within every frame of it, driving all of the principal characters and not just the psychopath. A need for justice, a need to definitively know lies buried beneath the daunting surface of this David Fincher masterwork.
Instead of a “Scariest movies for Halloween” list, we decided to go with another semi-standard list for this time of year: the best psychotics. We aren’t limiting it to horror movies: it’s an even playing field for these murderers and madmen. Let their tricks treat for years to come. (Entries are placed in no particular order, but feel free to name ones you would’ve picked instead.)
Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs)- For three movies, no matter your opinion of the sequel and prequel, Anthony Hopkins held your gaze as the calm, collected cannibal. When you first see him, he stands raised as if he were honoring royalty entering the room, a maddening stillness and calm smirk across his face. He always appears collected, which makes the madness behind his motives all the more chilling.
Jack Torrance (The Shining)- One of many iconic roles for Jack Nicholson and one of many masterpieces for Stanley Kubrick, this villain stands at the center of a chilling send-up of the American family. Dad gets cabin fever and starts chasing mom and son around with an axe. Watching this character descend into madness after seeing him semi-normal is what makes him so effective.