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The Craigslist Killer (film)

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The Craigslist Killer
Promotional poster displaying the premiere date
GenreTrue crime
Written byDonald Martin
Stephen Tolkin
Directed byStephen Kay
StarringJake McDorman
Agnes Bruckner
Kevin Kilner
Theme music composerTree Adams
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Kyle A. Clark
CinematographyJamie Barber
Editor(s)Hunter M. Via
Running time87 minutes
Original networkLifetime
Original release
  • January 3, 2011 (2011-01-03)

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The Craigslist Killer , also stylized as the//craigslist.killer in some promotional images, is a 2011 American crime drama television film directed by Stephen Kay, written by Donald Martin and Stephen Tolkin, and starring Jake McDorman, Agnes Bruckner, Kevin Kilner, and William Baldwin. It follows the dark, mysterious life of accused murderer Philip Markoff.

The film aired on Lifetime and is an adaptation of the true crime book A Date with Death: The Secret Life of the Accused "Craigslist Killer", written by Michele McPhee.


Philip Markoff (McDorman) prepares for a promising future as a doctor and a life of happiness with his fiancée, Megan McAllister (Bruckner). Seemingly destined for greatness as one of Boston University’s brightest medical students, Markoff could do no wrong in the eyes of Megan, his friends, fellow students, and professors. But hidden from those close to him was the violent wrath only he and his victims knew — beginning with his alleged April 14, 2009, first-degree murder of Julissa Brisman, a masseuse who advertised her services on Craigslist. When police discover that the brutal killing and a number of other attacks on women were all connected to advertisements placed on Craigslist, their investigation ultimately leads them to Markoff. Investigating the case are detectives Bennett (Baldwin) and Frye (Close).


  • Jake McDorman as Philip Markoff
  • Agnes Bruckner as Megan McAllister
  • Kevin Kilner as David McAllister
  • Julia Campbell as Susan McAllister
  • Candice Patton as Kate
  • Leela Savasta as Julissa Brisman
  • Joshua Close as Detective Frye
  • William Baldwin as Detective Bennett


The film adapts the book A Date with Death: The Secret Life of the Accused "Craigslist Killer", written by Michele McPhee.[1] Stephen K. Kay was brought on to direct the film, based on a script written by Donald Martin and Stephen Tolkin.[2] Development on the film began prior to the death of Philip Markoff, who was believed to have been responsible for several robberies and murders.[3][4]

Of the film, executive producer Judith Verno noted that they did not speak to Markoff's ex-fiancée Megan McAllister but that they "tried to be very respectful of that fact that she loved him and that she had no knowledge of his crimes" and that what the network found compelling were the questions "What attracted us to the story (was the idea of), how well do you really know someone?...When you are looking at a person who on the surface has so much going for them, trying to understand why they would do these kinds of things and then knowing we might never know”.[5]


The Craigslist Killer premiered on January 3, 2011 on Lifetime.[6] Ratings numbers for the film were high, securing 5.4 million viewers. This made it Lifetime's top film in the adults 25-54 demographic in a two year span, which was surpassed by the network's release of Drew Peterson: Untouchable the following year.[7] The film was later described as one of the network's "top-five true-crime offerings" in 2018.[8]


Reviews for The Craigslist Killer have been negative.[9][10] Much of the criticism focused on the lack of information or insight for the murders, which outlets such as The New York Times felt was a result of Markoff's death before any explanations for the crimes could be obtained.[11] The Repository reviewed The Craigslist Killer, which they felt was "every bit as sleazy as you’d expect."[12] Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times criticized the filmmakers for the use of "cheesy sound effects" used to "signal his switch from perfect-man mode to psychopath."[11]

Horror website HorrorNews.net was more favorable, praising the movie for its pacing and noting that they enjoyed it more than other Lifetime movies they had watched.[13] Since the film's release in 2011 USA Today and Flavorwire have both included the film on their lists of "Top 10 Lifetime movies that we love to hate-watch" and "The 35 Campiest TV Movies Ever Made", respectively.[14][15]


  1. McPhee, Michele (2010). A Date with Death: The Secret Life of the Accused "Craigslist Killer". New York City: St. Martin's True Crime Library. ISBN 9780312945060. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  2. Schneider, Michael (2010-08-27). "Lifetime plots 'Craigslist Killer' telepic". Variety. Retrieved 2021-02-12. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. Stanhope, Kate (August 27, 2010). "Lifetime Developing TV Movie About So-Called 'Craigslist Killer'". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2021-02-12. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. "Sony to bring Craigslist Killer to life in Lifetime!". JoBlo.com. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2021-02-12. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "Craigslist Killer's Lifetime movie told from Megan McAllister's point of view - SEE VIDEO". IrishCentral.com. 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  6. "The Craigslist Killer". Lifetime.
  7. "TV Ratings: Lifetime's Rob Lowe-Kaley Cuoco 'Drew Peterson' Pic Bows Huge". The Hollywood Reporter. 2012-01-23. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  8. Adalian, Maria Elena Fernandez, Josef (2018-07-30). "How TV's Biggest True-Crime Players Find Their Stories". Vulture. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  9. "Lifetime stalks 'Craigslist' insight, comes up empty-handed". Boston Herald. 2011-01-03. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  10. Marya, Radhika. ""Craigslist Killer" Story Dramatized in New TV Movie [VIDEO]". Mashable. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Genzlinger, Neil (2011-01-02). "The Psychopath Killer in Average-Guy Garb (Published 2011)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  12. Alexander, Al. "TV Review: Lifetime spares no gory detail in 'the//craigslist.killer'". The Repository. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  13. Martin, Todd (August 24, 2012). "Film Review: The Craig's List Killer (2011)". HorrorNews.net. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  14. kristinmusulin. "Top 10 Lifetime movies that we love to hate-watch". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  15. Viruet, Pilot. "The 35 Campiest TV Movies Ever Made". Flavorwire. Retrieved 2021-02-12.

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