Synopsis – Filmed over a 10-year period, Making a Murderer is an unprecedented real-life thriller about Steven Avery, a DNA exoneree who, while in the midst of exposing corruption in local law enforcement, finds himself the prime suspect in a grisly new crime. Set in America’s heartland, the series takes viewers inside a high-stakes criminal case where reputation is everything and things are never as they appear.
My Take – What are the odds of being charged with two separate crimes that you are supposed to be innocent of in your life time? Seriously! It’s hard to put into words how moving this documentary series was. In general perception, a tragic depiction of the powerful versus the powerless in the context of the American criminal justice system, and a haunting reminder of what human beings are capable of when we believe the ends justify the means. Being a fan of the true crime genre, this ten hour long Netflix documentary is dramatic, intriguing, thought-provoking and disturbing. The nature of the case against Steven Avery & later his nephew Brendan Dassey, what occurs, the evidence that is presented and how the investigation carries out is unprecedented and unlike anything I have ever heard of. It is truly shocking. The narrative is told through news footage, court footage, interrogations, images of suspects, victims etc, taped phone calls, interviews and minimal graphics for showing time lines and hierarchy of people involved. What you see, is actually a very comprehensive and complete real life film-making spanning almost 30 years.
The directors have also avoided the god-awful re-enactments usually applied to crime-related documentaries. Although I am no lawyer, the presentation of criminal law and the process of American justice system seems to be conveyed at great lengths and in an easy-to-follow manner. It also shows forensic and detective work and how it interplays with the justice system. Aptly titled, this documentary details the wrongful prison sentence of Steven Avery, police corruption and eventful arrest on his suspicion of murder on a separate case. This documentary series potentially depicts the greatest miscarriage of justice on American soil as the producers go out to prove that Stephen Avery, a Wisconsin resident, is purposely being made a scapegoat for crimes he did not commit namely for the rape/murder of 25year old photographer Teresa Halbach. What makes this unique, at this particular time, is that this is an ongoing case. So, while I won’t provide any “spoilers” they’re just a google search away. As for this documentary, each ‘episode’ is broken into a time-line of events from Steve’s childhood up to current events. The intrigue comes from this being a true story of so many different angles and twist, it is almost hard to believe that this isn’t some elaborate prank. “Truth is stranger than fiction.” comes to my mind. Yet again, a google search, or even looking at any number of online news sites today will reveal “protesters Pro-Steven being confined to a sidewalk” blurbs and other parts of this story. There are enough curves in this story to end each hour long episode with enough steam to leave you wanting to see what the next will be. This is put together well enough to make you feel a complete story is being with enough suspense to keep viewers interested. This is where a lot of documentaries fall short and you’re left watching them out of pure education interest. Though the events, tragedies, lives lost and affected are not entertaining, the fleshing out of this mystery is fascinating. While being a tad long, and to some extent, biased towards the Avery family (which I can understand too, other people refused to be involved such as the Halbach family), the narrative and story that I witnessed was still compelling and an eye-opening one too.
Obviously, the scary part in this documentary is how the law works. Or does not work. It is absolutely terrifying to see how the prosecutors and the judges and the rest of the apparatus is doing everything they can to win the case. They will lie, they will smear, they will do anything in their power to “prove” they are right. Besides the fact they are all trying to save their own skin, it is pure evil. I simply refuse to think that all the detectives and lawyers and judges involved really think Avery is guilty. Am I 100% sure that Avery did not kill the woman? No, I am not. Did Brendan help him? I cant say. But you can pretty much tell he is innocent by the way he is behaving both right after she went missing and during the trial. Unless he was a cold blooded monster with no emotions what so ever. You cant act like that without being a sociopath, psychopath and pathological liar. And Avery does not seem to be any of that. And if he was, he would probably be way smarter than to kill a woman and burn her in his own back yard shortly after being released from prison serving 18 years for something he never did. There are 2 innocent men in prison. There that is the spoiler. It’s not editing tricks or production or any kind of bias in this documentary that leads a reasonable person to that conclusion. It’s the overwhelming evidence. If you don’t like documentaries, then just think of it as a series: a murder-mystery series. Not only that, you get a surreal look at police corruption. I don’t believe all police are corrupt and the American justice system is completely broken, but you definitely see get a picture of how it can be questioned at times when it needs to be unquestionable. On the whole, ‘Making A Murderer’ is one of the best true crime documentaries I have ever seen. Huge credit to the film makers for following this story for more than 12 years. Amazing work and the end result is second to none. Or hopefully we have not seen the end yet.
Status – Season 1 (Completed)
Network – Netflix