Who is Netflix’s creepiest villain?
(Credit: Netflix)

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Who is Netflix's creepiest villain?

Netflix knows better than most that villains are a necessary bit of evil needed to fuel the hero’s arc in any story. Either the many vagaries of life stand in the path of our protagonist from attaining their happy ending, or all the horrible, terrible things about life come alive and create obstacles for them in the form of an actual flesh and blood nemesis.

A good villain knows how to push all the wrong buttons in our heroes, but one with the creepiest vibes needs a bit more going for them. They need more than an intense gaze and a menacing presence. They need to be twisted to their very core, and Netflix is home to many such villains—from David Tennant’s Kilgrave on Jessica Jones to Penn Badgley’s Joe Goldberg in You.

A genuinely creepy villain is manipulative but convinced of their own motivations. That’s what makes them intriguing. They might look like the regular Joe or Jane but can unsettle the protagonist as well as the viewer right out of their skin, which is why Ed Kemper, played by the brilliant Cameron Britton in the Netflix series Mindhunter—starring stars Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv—may just be the creepiest of them all.

Also known as the Co-ed Killer, Kemper is a real-life convicted serial killer who committed a series of gruesome murders from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. He murdered ten people, including his own mother.

In the Netflix drama series, adapted by Joe Penhall from the book by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, Britton’s portrayal of Kemper is bone-chilling despite only appearing in a handful of episodes over two seasons. His performance captures the disturbing nature of Kemper, even matching his mood and active stillness with tremendous accuracy as evident from Kemper’s actual interview footage.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Britton noted how Kemper’s character allowed him to explore his love for characters that are intelligent and complex, “I jumped at the chance to play Kemper because his creepiness comes from an intellectual end, and that’s the sort of work that I’m drawn to. I don’t know if I could play intimidating in a way that’s physically a tough-type, and it feels like since Mindhunter came out, auditions have been much more geared toward more intelligent characters. And that’s the kind of stuff I like to play. I just love characters that are complex, that you can dig into and keep itching the scratch and never quite be satisfied because they have enough going on with them that it’s like a giant puzzle.”

In the entire show, Britton’s Kemper gets to strike only once and it is enough to break our protagonist Holden Ford (Groff) to take him out of commission for a while. The fact that all Britton had to work with was mostly his one-on-one dialogue sessions with Groff in a tiny interrogation room, makes it even more impressive and his Kemper the creepiest villain of them all.