Web Series Wednesday – #WhoKilledHeather
By: Kathryn Trammell
By: Radar Studios
Who? #WhoKilledHeather is created by Neal Fischer and Kevin Kirchman. The show stars David Raymond, Charlotte Mae Ellison, Christopher McClellan, Doug Walker and Hannah Toriumi as “Heather.”
Why Should I Watch?
Some say that in this day in age there are no original stories left to tell – that given every book, movie and TV show published the “new” stories to which we are exposed are mere recycling of each other. While that may be true, some authors have become so adept at digging through the layers of these recycled stories until they reach the classic elements of genre-specific literature that lay beneath and expose a story that feels refreshingly new in its antiquity. When those elements are then used by a new medium of storytelling, like web series production, the result can be significant and powerful. Such is the case for #WhoKilledHeather. While #WhoKilledHeather might not be entirely original, both Agatha Christie and Gillian Flynn alike would applaud its ability to both entertain and captivate the audiences of both classic and new crime.
The series is cast with a slew of characters as varied as those in a Christie novel and steeped in that classic whodunit sense that we can’t trust a single one of them. #WhoKilledHeather begins when a college student’s recreational drone footage of a field behind his house reveals the corpse of a women who was murdered a year ago (also, I’ll never think of Jimmy John’s the same way again). Aside from the apparent creep factor of seeing a slain Heather Ross face down on the green earth, student Andrew Olsen immediately remembers the details of Heather’s murder, specifically that her body was found in a burning dumpster where it was believed her jealous ex-boyfriend disposed of her after he killed her for cheating on him. But if she was found in the dumpster, then how could Heather’s body also have been lying in the field behind his house? And why does the placement of her body in the field post-mortem resemble the Modus Operandi of a serial killer known as “The Waverly Butcher?” Like a regular ole Laura Hollis, Andrew makes finding the answers to these questions the focus of his term project: “#WhoKilledHeather.”
Over the course of the next few episodes, a story begins to unravel that proves just how well suited the web series genre is for telling a classic whodunit. Unlike every true crime show produced for TV, #WhoKilledHeather takes the classic archetype of an unreliable narrator and fans the flames of their deceit by using a storytelling device employed by many web series creators to its advantage: the vlog style stationary camera. Through this lens, many web series’ characters communicate their stories to their audience as means of narration. Through this lens, the “fourth wall” is oftentimes made non-existent. Viewers are referred to as family or friends and actors can look into the eyes of their viewers and make them feel like they are a part of the story too.
However, though this lens, characters also have the power to deceive. We are first introduced to the supposed protagonist of #WhoKilledHeather through a story of his most recent nightmare, one in which he watched a man become crushed by a falling piano only to walk over to that piano and play Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5 over the old man’s “bloody pile.” Thus, we have to wonder if Andrew is the kind of guy who isn’t harboring a murderous demon or two inside his mind. And he isn’t the only one. Through the fourth wall camera we meet other players in Andrew’s “#WhoKilledHeather” project. Some are friends who mean to help him. Some are acquaintances he invites into his room in front of his camera to investigate, but all are subject to the same human desire to project the image of ourselves we want others to see when we know we are being filmed. And that possibility – that what is presented is a performed – is what makes #WhoKilledHeather so interesting to watch.
While you may not be able to trust any of the characters in #WhoKilledHeather, you can trust the that the creative team behind the series has an intriguing story to tell. Give #WhoKilledHeather a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
Where Can I Watch?