To Catch a Killer: Is the Thriller Movie Based on a Real Case?

‘To Catch a Killer’ is a crime thriller drama movie that revolves around a troubled young police officer named Eleanor Falco whose talents are overshadowed by her disturbing past. However, when the FBI’s Chief Investigator Geoffrey Lammark comes across a disturbing serial killer on the loose, he decides to recruit Eleanor as he believes that her unused talent and troubled psyche due to her own life can help the authorities track down the murderer. Despite having launched a nationwide manhunt for the assailant, the police and FBI have had nothing to show for it. So, it is on Eleanor to get into the psyche of the serial killer and bring him to light and justice, once and for all.

Originally titled ‘Misanthrope,’ the Damián Szifron directorial features compelling onscreen performances from a talented ensemble cast comprising Shailene Woodley, Ben Mendelsohn, Jovan Adepo, Rosemary Dunsmore, and Ralph Ineson. Serial killers and the relentless hunt for them by the FBI and other authorities are not something unheard of in real life. Thus, it is only natural for you to pose the question — is ‘To Catch a Killer’ rooted in true events or not? Well, we have gathered all the necessary information about the same to rid you of your curiosity!

To Catch a Killer is a Fictional Story

No, ‘To Catch a Killer’ is not based on a true story. The action film is the brainchild of director Szifron and Jonathan Wakeham. The narrative is an enthralling yet seemingly true-to-life account of the relentless investigation of a fictional serial killer’s macabre series of murders and the FBI’s desperate attempt to get their hands on the perpetrator. Putting their creative minds to work, the two screenwriters managed to come up with such an engaging screenplay for the Shailene Woodley starrer.

It is very much possible that the duo of writers got influenced by some real-life serial killer and their cases while coming up with the story for ‘To Catch a Killer.’ After all, there have been numerous infamous serial killers and disturbing cases of killings over the course of humanity, such as Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader, Gary Ridgeway, and many more.

One such killer was Jeffrey Dahmer AKA The Milwaukee Cannibal, who gained notoriety due to the grotesque nature and pattern of his gruesome crimes. Netflix’s ‘Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story‘ gives a detailed account of his crimes from the point of view of his victims, and you just might find a few similarities between the biographical show and ‘To Catch a Killer.’ Another reason you might find the themes and subjects of the serial killer film familiar is that they have been explored in many movies and shows, such as ‘Zodiac‘ and ‘Hannibal,’ and that too in an arguably similar fashion.

However, one of the aptest examples has to be that of the 1991 psychological thriller movieThe Silence of the Lambs.’ Starring Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Kasi Lemmons, and Scott Glenn, the Jonathan Demme directorial is based on the eponymous novel by Thomas Harris and follows a young FBI trainee named Clarice Starling who is recruited to hunt down a serial killer with the help of an already incarcerated cannibal killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

As you can see, the character of Clarice from ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and Eleanor from ‘To Catch a Killer’ share quite a few similarities as both of them attempt to get inside the psyche of the respective killers in order to hunt them down. Moreover, their young shoulders are burdened with probably the biggest case of their respective careers. Not only that but several other aspects of the storylines of the two movies in question run parallel to one another as well. So, in conclusion, it would be fair to say that despite having some realistic themes and elements, ‘To Catch a Killer’ is a work of fiction and has nothing to do with a particular true event. 

Read More: Best Serial Killer Movies on Netflix