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Fans of true crime will not want to miss out on seeing this gripping drama about the final months in the life of serial killer John Wayne Gacy before he was executed by lethal injection in 1994.

Made by the producers behind 2003’s Monster, the Oscar-winning crime drama in which Charlize Theron played the murderous Aileen Wuornos, The Last Victim is based on a 1999 memoir of the same name by criminal defence attorney Jason Moss.

While preparing his thesis at a Nevada University, 18-year-old Moss started corresponding with known serial killers John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Henry Lee Lucas, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson. He reasoned that by gaining their trust, he could learn more about their crimes and get exclusive information that could help him land a job with the FBI.

It was his relationship with the 33-time killer Gacy that proved the most illuminating. Letters led to regular all-night phone calls (in which Gacy showed how manipulative and delusional he could be) before a meeting was arranged for Moss to visit Gacy on Death Row shortly before Gacy was executed.

The film adaptation excels because of William Forsythe’s masterful turn as the notorious serial killer. Known for his many menacing roles in Rob Zombie‘s horror canon, Forsythe dispenses with his usual gallows humour to play Gacy in a creepy, understated way – it certainly had me on edge. Jesse Moss (Final Destination 3), meanwhile, should be commended for his performance as the wannabe criminologist, whose growing obsession with the delusional Gacy almost costs him his relationships and his own innocence.

Unlike 2003’s made-for-TV killer thriller Gacy or the straight-to-the-bin travesty Dahmer vs Gacy, The Last Victim isn’t a lurid account of Gacy’s homicidal acts. By concentrating on the relationship between the infamous serial killer and his ‘admirer’, it becomes a powerful, thought-provoking psychological drama in which our own fascination with serial killers is also placed under a spotlight. A must-see.

DVD extras include The Gacy Files: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a look into the making of the film, featuring interviews with cast and crew and friends of John Wayne Gacy.

Released 7 March