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Here’s the twisted true story that inspired The Clovehitch Killer on Netflix

In the film, Tyler suspects his dad might be a serial killer who was never caught

The Clovehitch Killer, an acclaimed film from 2018 now streaming on Netflix in the UK, is a deeply unsettling watch. I’d been meaning to see it for a while, but never got round to it until it was added to Netflix over the last week – and it was worth the wait. Astutely written with a kind of offbeat sense of dark wit weaved around the story of a family crumbling from the weight of the most horrifying secrets imaginable – and a strong cast who sell the hell out of it. The lack of music cues makes the whole film feel very gritty and realistic, which naturally begs the question from the viewer if The Clovehitch Killer is based on a true story.

Here’s the unsettling true story that inspired The Clovehitch Killer – whilst not a direct retelling of a true story, grisly serial murders provided inspiration for the horrific acts Clovehitch committed.

The true story

The titular killer in Clovehitch is based off the crimes of serial murderer Dennis Rader, who called himself the BTK Killer. Rader gave himself this name in his taunting letters to the police – and called himself such because of his method being to “blind, tortute and kill” his victims.

Rader’s killing spree occurred between 1974 and 1991, where he killed 10 people. He wasn’t caught until 2015 when he accidentally revealed to the police what he’d done. He anonymously contacted the police to ask if a floppy disk could be used to trace his identity, and the police lied and said it couldn’t.

The whole story and the length of time before capture parallels the film – Clovehitch had been at large for years and as in the film had settled into normal family life with no one suspecting a thing. Dylan McDermott’s character is a scout leader in the film, too – and so was Dennis Rader.

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