The Devil’s Cinema – Steve Lillebuen

The Devil’s Cinema: The Untold Story Behind Mark Twitchell’s Kill Room – Steve Lillebuen

The devil's cinmaSynopsis


Reality and fantasy collide with shocking results in this riveting account of the notorious case of Mark Twitchell – and the police investigation into one of the most bizarre murders in recent memory.

In October 2008, Johnny Altinger, a 38-year-old Edmonton man, was on his way to a tryst with a woman he had met on an online dating website when he emailed the directions to their rendezvous to a concerned friend. He was never seen again. Two weeks before Altinger’s disappearance, independent filmmaker Mark Twitchell began shooting a low-budget horror film about a serial killer who impersonates a woman on an online dating website to lure his victims to their gruesome deaths. But these are just the starting points of the stranger-than-fiction case of Mark Twitchell, a man with a startling plan to turn his life-long love of fantasy and desire for fame into reality:

– Did Twitchell, in a horrific example of life imitating art, act out the grisly premise of his own script?

– Obsessed with Dexter, the popular TV show and book series about a fictional vigilante serial killer, Twitchell assumed Dexter Morgan’s profile on Facebook. But how far did he intend to take his fascination with Dexter?

– Is the shocking document “S.K. Confessions” a graphic work of fiction that, as Twitchell claims, he wrote to promote his film? Or is it a diary he kept of his transformation into a killer, and proof that the police stopped a prolific serial killer at the very beginning?

Veteran journalist Steve Lillebuen provides a gripping investigative account of the nesting doll intricacies of the case, plunging us into the world of pop culture fanaticism and into the mind of a self-professed psychopath. Drawing on extensive interviews, Lillebuen illuminates what can happen when some of our culture’s darkest obsessions are pushed to extremes


My Thoughts

This was another case hitting close to home. Surprisingly, I hadn’t even heard of it, yet the media attention was outstanding when you look back at media archives. I was quite surprised to find out that my hometown news paper was even there for some piece of the coverage.

What I found most fascinating is the complete break from reality that Twitchell clearly experiences. This obsession with creation and promoting projects is one I am familiar with. There is a fine line between fact and fiction, and one with a creative mind, such as Twitchell, sometimes has a very hard time distinguishing the two. Especially when your own dark desires are mirrored back at you.

That said, I want to make it very clear that his obsession with the TV and book series Dexter in no way influenced his actions – this is a position I firmly believe. Having studied psychopathy, sociopathy, and anti-social personality disorder to an extent, it is highly likely he harboured these desires prior to seeing them reflected to him through the media representation of Dexter Morgan. It is where he may have been inspired, but they did not, in any manner, give him the ideas to commit his crimes in the first place.

Twitchell further expresses his disinterest in reality by creating his own concept of his inability to express empathy. In this way, he is free to absolve himself of guilt by, for lack of a better term, pretending his is not responsible for his own actions. He takes none of the blame.

Reading through the case in this manner was fantastic. All information and dialogue are taken from court documents, police records, and interviews conducted by the author himself. It’s this type of case I love reading. Facts – sheer facts, with little speculation. No fancy attention-getting scenarios. Just straight facts.

Another thing I found fantastic about this book was the connection the author tried to make between reader and victim. Johnny wasn’t just another name on a list. He was a gentle, kind person. We connected with him, we got to know him, his friends, his family, his life. I haven’t read very many true crime novels that express, to this extent, a want for a connection to the victim. It was refreshing.

The media may have sensationalized the crime to extremes – for it was quite the extreme crime. As extreme and sensational as it was, it is clear that Twitchell will never fully come to terms with his actions. I highly doubt that he will ever take full responsibility. He will also hide behind some semblance of his imagination, some lie, some fabrication. It’s where is mind is most at ease.


~ by Aubrey Smith on June 10, 2014.

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