True-crime stories on Netflix don’t get much more shocking — and, at least from the viewer’s perspective, spellbinding — than Lover, Stalker, Killer, a newly released must-watch film that just shot straight to #1 on the streaming giant and which also debuted with a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.
The documentary comes from Curious Films, the same company behind another fantastic Netflix documentary (Running with the Devil: The Wild World of John McAfee) that I reviewed here. This time around, instead of an eccentric computer software legend, the story is about online dating and a love triangle gone wrong. Its central figure is Dave Kroupa, an Everyman with an auto repair shop who, we come to learn, was looking to get back into the dating game and who also, in 2012, had recently moved to Omaha, Nebraska.
Kroupa was fresh out of a long-term relationship, created an online dating profile, and soon enough, met Liz Golyar, a single mom who was also an animal lover. Not long after that, he also met another single mom, Cari Farver, who actually showed up to his repair shop to get her car fixed.
“We enter this story from the perspective of Dave, who is caught in a complete web of falsehood,” director Sam Hobkinson says in a Netflix promotional interview. “I wanted the storytelling to somehow reflect that confusion, and ultimately, his total disbelief when he realizes what’s happened.”
Kroupa and Golyar saw each other regularly after meeting via the online dating site, but Kroupa eventually told her he wasn’t looking to commit. Importantly, Golyar gives the impression that she’s fine with that. Once he ends up dating Farver, they at one point find themselves back in Kroupa’s apartment. As she’s leaving, she passes Golyar in the hallway — a chance meeting, ostensibly sparked by Golyar saying she was just stopping by to pick up a few things, that would change all of their lives.
As an investigator notes, once Lover, Stalker, Killer really gets going: “This was one of the strangest, most unpredictable cases I’d ever worked…”
Without spoiling any of the many insane twists in this story, there’s eventually a murder, impersonation, and stalking of Kroupa, all of which led that baffled investigator to lament: “I thought I’d seen it all. I hadn’t seen anything like this.”
If you’re a fan of true-crime documentaries and docuseries, adding this one to your watchlist is a no-brainer. There’s a cinematic, edge-of-your-seat feeling of suspense that pervades this documentary, similar to what I recall feeling while watching something like Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler. Furthermore, the movie also easily passes the how-many-times-did-I-check-my-phone-while-I-was-bored test (zero!).
Check out a trailer for Lover, Stalker, Killer below.