'Those Who Kill' review: Darien-raised Chloë Sevigny stands out
Updated 1:57 pm, Friday, February 28, 2014
Those Who Kill: Dramatic series. 10 p.m. Monday on A&E.
The surprise-filled plot of A&E's "Those Who Kill" will put you on the edge of your seat, and Darien-raised Chloë Sevigny's performance will keep you there.
Television doesn't really need another cop show, but there is always room for one more if it's well crafted and graced with winning - and, in this case, disturbing - performances. That's what you'll find when "Those Who Kill" premieres Monday night.
Many of the elements are familiar from other shows. Sevigny stars as Catherine Jensen, a new homicide detective working in the Pittsburgh Police Department. Of course, she breaks rules, because every good TV cop seems to break rules.
The discovery of a mummified body at a demolition site sets off Jensen's suspicion that it's more than an accidental death or a typical murder. For one thing, the dead woman's arms are crossed over her chest. Ritualistic killings often suggest something other than a random crime of passion.
Her supposed partner, Lt. Mike Dunn (Christopher Michael Holley), tries to do things by the book and gets pushed aside for his efforts. Their boss, Frank Bisgaard (James Morrison), gives Jensen the OK to pursue her suspicions, but warns her to remember she's part of a team.
If he doesn't know she won't listen, we surely do.
We immediately note that there's something a little off-center about Jensen, and no one's better at off-center than Chloë Sevigny. It's not just what her character does or doesn't say about her family, or the paintings of the homes of serial killers on her living room wall. It's the almost ravenous way she tucks into the murder case when she and academic forensic psychologist Thomas Schaeffer (James D'Arcy) realize the body at the demolition site is the work of a serial killer.
The pilot episode is noteworthy because of the care show runner/writer Glen Morgan ("The X-Files") takes to avoid standard crime-story templates. So many cop shows follow a pattern: A killing happens, the investigation follows, one detective is usually ahead of his colleague, the killer is found and the end credits roll. With "Those Who Kill," Morgan upends the template. The "who" in whodunit is revealed relatively early, but that doesn't mean the suspense is over: Far from it. "Those Who Kill" is filled with more gotchas than Nicolas Roeg's angina-inducing 1973 film "Don't Look Now."
Like "The Killing," "Those Who Kill" is an Americanized redo of a Danish series, "Den Som Draeber," created by author Elsebeth Egholm. And like "The Killing," it's moody, although Pittsburgh is a decidedly drier climate than the Pacific Northwest, so there aren't as many nocturnal rainy scenes.
Sevigny continues to be unlike any other actress working in film or TV. Her face is all but immobile, as if every emotion has been Botoxed. Her half-lidded eyes move furtively, seeming to take in every detail. She reacts to other people with barely perceptible changes in expression - the slight upturn of one side of her mouth. She all but floats through various scenes of "Those Who Kill," seeming to register little, and then exploding with rage or fear.
As has been the case in so many films and TV shows, Sevigny is the most compelling reason to watch "Those Who Kill," but if the scripts remain as carefully crafted as that of Monday's pilot, Sevigny will have found a vehicle worthy of her singular skills.