No, I don’t mean go to Whitechapel and take one of those Jack the Ripper tours even though they are pretty cool. I mean Whitechapel the ITV television series, a detective drama that initially follows police officers attempting to catch a Jack the Ripper copycat killer. I know, it doesn’t seem like the type of thing that you would usually watch on Halloween because it doesn’t feature an endless amount of blood and gore with an immortal villain, but can you think of something better? I’m genuinely asking because I can’t. I think that I, and probably plenty of others, have become desensitised to all the horror movies that are thrown our way this time of year. I’ve been watching things like Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday the 13th since I was a child (says a lot about my parents) so it doesn’t really have an affect on me, I even watched Paranormal Activity without even flinching. Gone are the days when people would run out of a cinema screaming which I still can’t believe they did.
Ghost stories and nightmares are no longer scary but you want to know what is? The real. One of the reasons I don’t get scared watching the films I mentioned is because they aren’t realistic, how am I supposed to be scared of something that will probably (I’m saying probably just in case something starts haunting me, I don’t want anyone to say “I told you so”) never happen. Serial killers are real, we’ve had countless ones over the years and probably only caught a handful of them which genuinely scares the bajeezus out of me. Jack the Ripper is one of the most famous cases of a serial killer, he was unbelievably brutal and he ended up getting away with his crimes, and now so much time has passed that we will probably never know who he really was. That brings me back to Whitechapel because the one thing I find more frightening than the long dead serial killer is someone that idolises him and attempts to imitate him.
Whitechapel follows DI Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) as he takes charge of the Whitechapel station which is supposed to be an easy post until they encounter a body of a woman that has practically been ripped to shreds. Edward Buchan, a self appointed Ripperologist, decides to step in when the bodies begin to pile up and finds clear links between the murders in the present day to the ones that occurred in 1888, he is then informally recruited into the fold to educate the officers so they can attempt to find the murderer before he kills again. Yes, this is essentially a police procedural but it isn’t a murder of the week type show thats resolved within 45 minutes. It uses the familiar Jack the Ripper story that has been told and retold before and still manages to make it original. The detectives we are introduced to are a hell of a lot more realistic than the ones we’ve seen before, some bumbling and unable to cope with what is going on around them, which is probably what the detectives that were investigating the original Jack the Ripper case were like. We get an insight into their mentality and how they handle witnessing the brutal murders as well as dealing with tracking down a serial killer that has already sort of gotten away with it.
The Jack the Ripper copycat killer is told over the course of three episodes and although on occasion the links between the Ripper murders and modern murders are a bit flimsy and coincidental the overall writing of the show makes that easy to forgive. Whitechapel features a compelling and suspenseful storyline with hints of dark humour and irritating yet instantly likable characters who actually seem relatable, so why not give it a shot? Take a break from the ghosts and the ghouls that you usually cosy up to in October and spend your Halloween with a copycat serial killer. If you do fancy something supernatural and more conventionally frightening don’t just watch season one, watch till the end of the series. Whitechapel basically changes genre and the decline in quality is truly terrifying. That was sarcasm by the way, please just watch the first season and don’t disappoint yourself with the rest of it.
I wanted to provide you with a trailer for the first series but for some reason it’s impossible to find. Either that or Youtube genuinely hates me. Below is a sneak peak which you can take a look at if you need anymore convincing.
Image via ITV