Netflix Crime Thriller Based On Real-Life Serial Killer Will Chill You To The Bone

By Robert Scucci | Published

True crime buffs will be quick to point out that Clovehitch Killer is a fictionalized recounting of the life and times of Dennis Rader, the BTK killer.

If you’re familiar with the kind of real-life lore that will make you never trust your neighbor again, Clovehitch Killer successfully breaks down the dynamic of a God-fearing family who doesn’t know their patriarch is a cold, calculating killer who’s living a double life.

While this creative deviation from the real story shouldn’t leave you surprised by its outcome, you’ll be amazed by how effectively Clovehitch Killer will get under your skin.

Clovehitch Killer

Clovehitch Killer starts with a memorial for 10 missing females who were bound, gagged, and murdered by an unknown assailant 10 years prior in a small Kentucky town.

We’re introduced to the Burnsides, a devout Christian family who is very active in their community. Dylan McDermott’s Don Burnside is a Boy Scout troop leader and handyman who is a picture-perfect father figure.

He’s Hiding Something

When Don’s son, Tyler (Charlie Plummer), borrows his truck to sneak out and see his girlfriend, she finds a graphic pornographic image underneath the passenger seat, and decides to call it a night.

After being singled out as a pervert by his peers (word travels fast), Tyler is suspicious that his father is hiding something from the rest of his family.

When Tyler sneaks into Don’s tools shed, he finds a secret compartment full of adult magazines, as well as a Polaroid of one of the Clovehitch Killer’s victims in a submissive position.

Unsolved Murders

clovehitch killer

Dylan McDermott becomes increasingly manipulative toward Tyler in Clovehitch Killer when he realizes that he’s been snooping around.

Meanwhile, Tyler befriends a girl named Kassi (Madisen Beaty). She is an outcast because she isn’t a part of the church and has been obsessed with the unsolved murders.

Tyler continues to poke around against his father’s wishes with Kassi’s help, and has more than enough reason to believe that his father, who knows how to tie his fair share of knots (he’s especially good at tying a clovehitch knot), may be the guilty party.

Covering His Tracks

clovehitch killer

Not unlike the real-life BTK killer, Don’s job allows him to case out houses and stalk his victims while he’s working on their properties.

Living a seemingly virtuous life, Don is excellent at covering his tracks and keeping up appearances, making him a model citizen.

Knowing that Tyler suspects him of being the Clovehitch Killer, Don sends him to leadership camp, something he previously said he couldn’t afford, while his wife and daughter, Cindy (Samantha Mathis) and Samantha (Brenna Sherman), visit Cindy’s mother for two weeks.

Building Tension

clovehitch killer

Clovehitch Killer does an excellent job building tension because Dylan McDermott’s Don Burnside is a master of manipulation. Don knows that Tyler has him dead to rights, but that’s nothing a simple yet intimidating father-son camping trip can’t solve.

Fearing that his father is getting ready to kill again, Tyler has to act quickly to make sure that Don doesn’t follow through on his impulses and claim another victim.

Treading the line between fiction and reality, Clovehitch Killer tells a terrifying story about how people may not be how they seem on the surface. This revisionist version of the BTK Killer’s crimes in Clovehitch Killer does an excellent job showing the efforts that a serial killer has to take if he wants to live a normal, unassuming life.

clovehitch killer


While this movie isn’t violent, it generates fear by showing how easily Don can shift from playing a game of Gin on family game night to stalking his prey when nobody else is watching.

You’ll have a hard time trusting your neighbors and community leaders after watching Clovehitch Killer because of how well-thought-out its premise is. This is not a whodunit kind of movie, but rather a story about trying to find proof of somebody’s secret life after it becomes so painfully obvious. If you’re tired of documentaries but still get a kick out of feeling uneasy, you can stream Clovehitch Killer on Netflix right now.