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True Crime Docuseries Review: Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer


 Released in 2019, Netflix's Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer tells the story of Luka Magnotta's crimes and those who tried to hunt him down.  In the beginning, Magnotta posted a video online of himself putting two kittens in a vacuum seal bag before extracting all of the air.  Thankfully director Mark Lewis doesn't actually show the demise of the helpless cats, but enough is shown to illuminate just how horrid this act was.

Lewis interviews two people, Deanna Thompson and John Green, who joined a Facebook group to find out who it was that was in the video.  The docuseries follows their investigation to try and pinpoint the culprit's location.  The video didn't show the identity of the miscreant, and their goal was to scrutinize the video for any clues that could be found.

Ultimately, after a few more videos are released, they suspect the person in the video is Luka Magnotta, a man in his late twenties living in Toronto.  Interestingly, it seems as though it was Magnotta himself, using fake Facebook profiles, that lead the group to focus on him.  As the docuseries progresses, it becomes clear that Magnotta is obsessed with notoriety, and he wants to be chased.

Eventually, Magnotta moves from killing cats to murdering Jun Lin, a Chinese student in Montreal.  At this point, the police get involved and work to track Magnotta down.  The thrill of the chase and fame have him leaving clues that seem more likely in a thriller than in real life.  

I have seen numerous programs on serial killers, and Magnotta stands above them all when it comes to narcissism.  He created many fan sites for himself with fake accounts, trying to show the world that he was a famous person who was incredibly good looking.  This love of self ended up being what got him caught at an internet cafe in Berlin, where he was going online to look at his own Interpol red notice.

The primary focus of the docuseries is the internet sleuths who had been searching for Magnotta long before he committed the homicide.  What they have to say is interesting, but when the series is viewed as a whole, I am left wondering what their purpose was.  Their efforts, which I believe were very noble, didn't alter anything that happened.  I couldn't see any impact that they had on thwarting Magnotta or assisting the police.

On top of that, it seemed it was Magnotta himself that was obsessed with them hunting him down.  They would have likely never found out his identity if he didn't give them leads using fake accounts.  I'm in no way bashing them or what they did, but from the perspective of the series narrative, it feels like Lewis focused a great deal of time on something that wasn't as relevant as the actual police efforts.

Probably the hardest to sit with is the fact that this docuseries even exists.  Magnotta was a horrendously disturbed person.  While he only killed one person, it was clear that he didn't intend to stop.  All of his clues and actions pointed to him wanting to create a movie about himself.  His fascination with film was emulated in what he did.  It was all horrible, and while he had a global audience for a brief period of time the existence of this docuseries makes him immortal.

I understand that much of true crime is walking a line of celebrating or inflating the horror of some despicable people, but, in this case, the docuseries is doing exactly what Magnotta wanted.  It is highlighting him as a devious and clever murderer, leaving clues and enjoying the chase.  This is feeding directly into his intentions.

The end of the series does take a moment to address this, but having one line at the end of a three part series doesn't automatically mean everything is okay.  The base material that is shown in Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer is riveting.  However, many possible viewers may have a hard time with feeling as though they gave Magnotta exactly what he wanted.  It is an interesting series, but it is also one where I felt as though I had fed into the motive of the killer.

Rating - 2.5 out of 4 stars

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