HBO has released the first trailer for its new six-part documentary series I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which follows the hunt for the Golden State Killer.
The series is based on the book of the same name by crime writer Michelle McNamara, and it explores her investigation into the dark world of a violent predator who terrorized California in the ’70s and ’80s. The Golden State Killer, as she dubbed him, is responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders. The series aims to give voice to the survivors and their families, documenting an era when sex crimes were often dismissed or hidden in shame.
HBO describes the series as “a timely inquiry into our macabre preoccupation with true crime and a cautionary tale of the dangerous lure of addiction, [I’ll Be Gone in the Dark] is a riveting meditation on obsession and loss, chronicling the unrelenting path of a mysterious killer and the fierce determination of one woman to bring the case to light.
McNamara, the wife of comedian Patton Oswalt, died in April 2016, but she lived for a good story, and would spend her nights indulging her obsession with unsolved cases. Delving into the world of online chat rooms and crime blogs, she became immersed in the graphic details of the Golden State Killer case, along the way connecting with like-minded sleuths, trading facts, photos and leads. Committed to solving the case, the investigative research consumed her, and she became more and more plagued by dark thoughts and a growing sense of angst. The demands of balancing her self-described addiction to her work with her family life pulled McNamara in competing directions and she became increasingly reliant upon prescription drugs to manage her mounting anxieties.
After a string of sleepless nights and harrowing nightmares, McNamara tragically died of an accidental overdose in her sleep with her manuscript unfinished. After her death, Oswalt enlisted his wife’s fellow sleuths, Paul Haynes and Billy Jensen, to help finish and publish her book in February 2018, nearly two years after McNamara’s death. It received rave reviews and went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Two months later, an arrest was made in the case, with DNA evidence pointing toward a 72-year-old former police officer.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is not just a journey into McNamara’s soul, it’s a detective story told in her own words, through exclusive original recordings and excerpts from her book read by actor Amy Ryan. The series draws from extensive archival footage and police files as well as exclusive new interviews with detectives, survivors and family members of the killer to weave together a picture of a complex and flawed investigation. It is a frightening document of an era when victims were often too ashamed to speak out and sexual crime was minimized in the press and the courtroom. Echoing McNamara’s writing, the series gives voice to the victims, and their experiences speak to the far-reaching, human cost of the decades-old case.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark will debut on Sunday, June 28, and hails from Emmy-winning director Liz Garbus (Lost Girls). The series was produced by Story Syndicate, and additional directors on the series include Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane and Josh Koury. Watch the trailer below, and click here to read Collider’s review of HBO’s most recent true crime docuseries, Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: Lost Children.