True-crime doc watchers who are in committed relationships may see “Lover, Stalker, Killer,” a bracing account of a lurid series of misdeeds directed by Sam Hobkinson, and breathe a sigh of relief over being out of the dating pool.
It begins in 2012, when Dave Kroupa, an auto mechanic in Omaha, was rebounding from a breakup. He finds himself at 35, single and ready to mingle. On a dating app he meets Liz Golyar (likes bowling, enjoys giving the finger to video cameras, as per the archival footage) and then, believing their relationship to be nonexclusive, also takes up with one Cari Farver.
Soon into the liaison, Farver starts freaking out. Dave is pelted with nasty texts and emails — the screen fills with vulgar words and threats and the soundtrack becomes awash in digital glitches. The violence soon escapes the virtual: Golyar’s house burns down.
As the litany of harassment unfolds, Farver has yet to be seen. The puzzle here might have been solved by the application of Occam’s razor, had all the variables been known at the time. Even so, the twists include a few that even the keenest of armchair sleuths would not have guessed.
The filmmakers indulge in some legerdemain, having the real-life participants recount the events as if certain facts were not already in the open at the time of the interviews. The movie also contains staged footage, including arguably cheesy Midwest-law-enforcement world building: Two detectives who help break the case are introduced while killing time in a pool hall. By now these are accepted conventions, so there’s little point in complaining, especially when the end result is so brisk, in a tight 90 minutes.
Lover, Stalker, Killer
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. Watch on Netflix.