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Netflix’s newest docu-series is about how internet sleuths investigated a real-life murder that was as surreal and unbelievable as a Hollywood thriller. That may be because it was inspired by one.
Warning: Plenty of spoilers below.
“Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer” explores the shocking story of Luka Magnotta, who first appeared on social media in multiple videos killing animals before eventually recording himself brutally murdering college student Jun Lin. The videos he put out suggested he wanted to play a cat-and-mouse game with those who wanted him locked up. Magnotta triggered an international manhunt before ultimately being captured; he’s now serving life for murder.
It’s an intense plot on its own. What makes it even creepier (and honestly, creepy as f**k) is the fact that Magnotta may have used a famous ‘90s thriller as a blueprint for his killing.
Magnotta was apparently obsessed with the 1992 movie “Basic Instinct.” In that film, washed-up detective Nick Curran (played by Michael Douglas) becomes infatuated with Catherine Tramell (played by Sharon Stone), an author of thriller books with a trail of mysterious deaths behind her that conveniently mirror the murders in her writing.
In “Don’t F**k With Cats,” Magnotta’s mother Anna Yourkin notes that her son absolutely loved “Basic Instinct.” In fact, she still keeps her son’s old “Basic Instinct” key chain as a keepsake.
The amateur detectives featured in “Don’t F**k With Cats” believe that Magnotta's affection for the film entered disturbing and diabolical territory and that Lin’s murder was his homicidal homage to his favorite film.
The poster and cord
The first scene of “Basic Instinct” is a murder-sex scene that the internet sleuths of “Don’t F**k With Cats” think Magnotta was trying to emulate. It shows the victim, a wealthy former rock star named Johnny Boz, being tied up with a white silk scarf. Tramell is straddling Boz, and center frame on the wall above the bed is a stained-glass window.
The amateur detectives, Deanna Thompson and “John Green,” note that this opening scene looks eerily familiar to how Lin died.
“I remember thinking, holy s**t, that looks exactly like the murder video,” Green recalled about watching "Basic Instinct" after Lin's murder.
In the video in which he was killed, Lin is tied to the bed with white cord. His arms are in a similar position to Boz’s before he died. Above Magnotta and Lin is a “Casablanca” movie poster, center frame on the wall. Thompson compares the poster to the stained-glass window.
"Luka's making an homage to 'Basic Instinct,'" Green says.
The ice pick
In the initial murder scene of the movie, Tramell stabs Boz repeatedly with an ice pick. From that point forward, ice picks become an important recurring object in the film. Curran often watches her as she effortlessly uses ice picks to break ice before making cocktails. The ending scene of the film is even centered around an ice pick.
Magnotta kills Lin with a screwdriver that he altered to look like an ice pick, and titled the video he posted “1 Lunatic 1 Ice Pick.”
Magnotta had a habit of creating multiple fake profiles and online aliases before his capture. The docu-series repeatedly notes that Magnotta was obsessed with movies and pop culture and many of his aliases reflected that.
Among his many fake names was Kirk Tramell, which the sleuths featured in the docu-series think this is a clear reference to Tramell of “Basic Instinct.”
When Magnotta was arrested for Lin’s murder and his interrogation began, he asked for a cigarette and crossed his legs. Seems innocuous enough.
But, “Don’t F**k With Cats” suggests that this too could be a nod to “Basic Instinct.” As Tramell is interviewed by police, she asks for a cigarette before crossing her legs (and then re-crossing them to reveal she's not wearing any underwear). It’s one of the film’s most iconic scenes.
Much of “Basic Instinct” focuses on Tramell’s diabolical way of preparing for a murder months, if not years, in advance. Before she killed Boz, she wrote a novel titled “Love Hurts,” in which a rock star is killed by his lover with an ice pick, while his hands were tied to the bedpost with a white, silk scarf.
“I’d have to be pretty stupid to write a book about killing and then kill somebody in the way I described it in my book,” Tramell says. “I’d be announcing myself as the killer.”
Of course, she also acknowledged that the "I'd have to be pretty stupid" argument essentially gave her a convenient alibi.
As “Don’t F**k With Cats” shows, Magnotta spent a lot of time plotting his murders and appeared to create a fictitious alibi, or at least rationale, for the killing as well.
That rationale had a name: Manny Lopez.
While Magnotta never denied killing Lin, he claimed the murder was done at the behest of a mysterious character named Lopez. Yourkin explained in the docu-series that her son began talking about Lopez years before Lin's murder. After Magnotta failed to make it as an actor and model, he began working as an escort. She said that he met Lopez while engaged in that line of work and quickly fell under his control.
But investigators said there's nothing to corroborate Lopez's existence and they don't believe he's an actual person. Romeo Salta, an attorney whom Magnotta approached after being accused of animal abuse, said in the docu-series that it's possible his former client made up this fictitious alibi years before committing a murder, a move he called “psychotic and brilliant at the same time.”
Furthermore, Lopez was likely inspired by a character in “Basic Instinct.” Tramell's ex-boyfriend in the movie is named Manuel, or Manny, Vásquez. Like so many others in that film, he died under enigmatic circumstances.
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