“Black Bird” on Apple TV+: the true story of a serial killer by Dennis Lehane

Raw thriller, panting, dark, sticky. All the style of Dennis Lehane is in “Black Bird”, online since this Friday on Apple TV+. In this miniseries in six episodes of one hour each, the author of “Shutter Island” and “Mystic River” is screenwriter and co-producer. This time, the multi-award-winning American writer has decided to seize a true story, that of James Keene, ex-American football star in his high school in Chicago, son of a corrupt policeman, fallen into traffic drug.

He was arrested in 1990. Received a ten-year sentence. And bored behind bars. Surprise: the deputy prosecutor who put him behind bars visits him. And offers him a deal: to talk to an inmate, Larry Hall, who has admitted four murders but is actually suspected of being a serial killer, the murderer of dozens of young girls. Keene accepts the deal.

The original names of this sordid affair, which held the United States in suspense, have been retained. Who is the real Larry Hall? When he was born in 1962, at the same time as a twin brother, he had to be placed on life support and was close to death. This chaotic entry into life will have consequences. His growth is disrupted, and his intelligence remains well below average. Another sordid detail, he grew up in a cemetery and helped his father dig graves.

Still in jail to this day

As a teenager, this simpleton, much appreciated by his entourage, became passionate about the Civil War and began to participate in historical re-enactment events. He liked the look of the soldiers of that time: he adopted the full mustache with sideburns, which he kept in detention.

It was the disappearance of 15-year-old Jessica Roach in September 1993 that put the police on the trail of the 30-year-old. The number of a license plate of a dark colored van, seen by several witnesses, will lead the police to Larry Hall. Between 1981 and 1994, the police suspect him of having sexually assaulted and killed around thirty young women in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio…

The real James Keene told his story in a book “In With the Devil” (“With the Devil”, Points, 2010), which inspired the series to Dennis Lehane. By cooking incognito Larry Hall, according to the agreement with the deputy prosecutor, he would have succeeded in obtaining the location of the bodies of several victims of the killer, still incarcerated to this day.

The hunk and the chilling assassin

On screen, the plot works. We are caught up in the story, pure thriller, with a well-paced and polished image, supported by dark music, which reinforces the uneasy atmosphere. Taron Egerton, also co-producer, is the perfect guy with the physique of a handsome, insolent and slap-headed guy. The actor, amazing Elton John in “Rocketman”, portrays a James Keene who is risking his life in this high-security prison in Springfield, on the wire to get Larry Hall to talk.

Paul Walter Hauser is impressive in Larry Hall. Madness in his gaze, Machiavellian smile, we shiver in front of this disconcerting, chilling character. In the role of Keene’s father, we note the last screen presence of Ray Liotta, star of “Goodfellas”, who died in his sleep on May 26 at the age of 67, during a filming in the Republic Dominican.

Editor’s note:

black bird », from July 8 on Apple TV+. Series in six episodes of one hour each written and produced by Dennis Lehane, with Taron Egerton, Ray Liotta, Paul Walter Hauser.

Leave a Comment