Netflix is offering a different kind of Choose Your Own Adventure-style event for Valentine's Day 2024.
And no, we're not talking about a Black Mirror: Bandersnatch-like interactive deal. With the most romantic day of the year fast approaching, the world's best streaming service is gearing up to give you some lovey-dovey fare in the form of a brand new rom-com to deliver some feel-good fun. If that's the last thing you want, however, there's a very dark docufilm about doomed dating that'll make you think twice about using dating apps/websites ever again.
Let's start with the happy stuff. Players, a schmaltzy romantic Netflix film that debuts on February 14, features Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin) as New York sportswriter Mack. She's spent years with her best friend Adam (Damon Wayans Jr.) developing successful "plays" – aka hook ups – for all and sundry. But, when she targets charming war correspondent Nick (Lucifer's Tom Ellis), she ends up falling head over heels – and as the movie's synopsis puts it, has to "learn what it takes to go from simply scoring to playing for keeps."
If, like me, that sounds like something you'd happily amputate your own head to avoid seeing – don't expect to see it appear on our best Netflix movies list – then perhaps a forthcoming Netflix romance-based crime documentary will be right up your alley. You know, as long as you can make it through to the end credits.
A different kind of play
Lover, Stalker, Killer is everything that Players isn't: it's not fiction, a comedy, or a feel-good experience. Indeed, it's a true story of a seemingly innocent love triangle that turned into a shocking saga of deception, harassment, and murder.
The docufilm tells the story of Dave Kroupa, who moved to Omaha after a long-term relationship ends. Like many of us, he made the jump to online dating to find love, which is where he met single mom and animal lover Liz Golyar. They dated a few times, but Kroupa decided it wasn't working and they agreed to part amicably. Soon after, he met another woman – single mom (we're starting to see a pattern here...) Cari Farver – takes her car to Dave's car shop to get it repaired.
Per Netflix's synopsis for Lover, Stalker, Killer, the duo "hit it off instantly" and started dating – until, a few weeks later, Farver mysteriously disappeared.
Or did she? While Farver appeared to disappear into thin air, she stayed in Kroupa's life digitally – sending Kroupa and his family thousands of threatening texts, which accused him of ruining her life. Golyar later revealed she'd been targeted, with Farver threatening her to leave Kroupa alone.
Even more bizarrely, Farver's mom received texts saying her daughter had moved to Kansas and that she'd be back to pick up her teenage son at some point, but she never did. Cue the cops getting involved, and the beginnings of a truly surreal, twisted, and macabre criminal investigation.
Expect Lover, Stalker, Killer to make its way onto our best Netflix documentaries list once it debuts on February 9. Maybe wait until after Valentine's Day, though, to stream it and/or load up Tinder, Bumble, or any other dating apps you're using.
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Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.
- Tom PowerSenior Entertainment Reporter