'Those Who Kill' review: Chloë Sevigny thriller is disturbing, magnetic
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THE SERIES "Those Who Kill"
WHEN | WHERE Premieres Monday night at 10 on A&E
WHAT IT'S ABOUT Chloë Sevigny is trying to scratch an itch, and it makes us jittery, too. After winning awards as the bristly middle wife in HBO's "Big Love," Sevigny now slips into the skin of a cutting-edge Pittsburgh homicide detective who truly feels her cases. Or is she re-enacting them? The dark stairway, the creaky door, the hushed slink inside the family house to watch her mother and stepfather sleeping. That's the first scene of "Those Who Kill," even before the credits with their squeam-inducing close-ups of bugs snared in webs.
Even before the first dead body is found in an abandoned mill, one of many rich settings location-shot at the steel town's three-rivers confluence. Pittsburgh breathes as vividly as the characters here -- the unhinged serial-crime culprits, pursued by Sevigny's restless Catherine Jensen, with her drafted partner, James D'Arcy's Dr. Thomas Schaeffer, a cagey young professor/profiler with his own demons being held at bay.
MY SAY Think the haunted hunt sounds familiar? Sure doesn't play that way. Not when Jensen gets locked in a box by the madman she's pursuing, and Schaeffer finds her there, but . . .
There it is -- that split second, when one of these damaged souls might do anything. That's where "Those Who Kill" lives, in that stark moment of torment and indecision, between secrets and sharing, seeking control or, just maybe, trust.
Adapting from a Danish drama ("Den Som Draeber") that translates to the same title, A&E showrunner Glen Morgan ("The X-Files") goes full-bore with gore and adult themes -- but also, crucially, the "Nordic noir" groundedness of place and people that immerses us.
Not to get all artsy-fartsy, but the mise-en-scène runs deep here. Everything the eye sees, the ear hears, the nerves feel -- tangible elements impart the storytelling its own edgy soul. That amplifies the happenings, making the characters' air heavy, their energy so tightly coiled you await (dread? hope for?) an explosive jolt. "Those Who Kill" further fuels its tension with musical tick-tocks and rumbling tones lending menace to the mundane.
BOTTOM LINE Disturbing. Magnetic. Hold your breath. Watch.