THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Son of Sams: A Decent into Darkness is Netflix's newest true crime documentary following the Son of Sam case and the extensive investigation of Maury Terry, an investigator who followed the Son of Sam case and author of Ultimate Evil.
Even before The White Tent Company, true crime has been a fascination of mine. However that's pales into comparison of Terry's fascination with the Son of Sam case.
Although this documentary follows the Son of Sam case, it ultimately ends up being a depiction of his investigation in what by the end of the series feels like a tribute to his life.
David Berkowitz has inspired many of the characters I have created over the years. His quite but smug demeanour is extremely unnerving, like he knows something no one else knows. This false sense of charm and humility is a quality shared with other serial killers such as Bundy or Bellfeild. But in my opinion, none quite as much as Berkowitz.
What really drew me into this doc was the initial reafference to Charles Manson. In the opening of the first episode and in the Netflix trailer, we see images of Manson as it is insinuated that there is a connection between the two killers. The idea that two of Americas most famous serial killers (although there is debate as to weather Manson should be classed as a serial killer since he never actually killed anyone, but that's another story) could in some way be linked, completely fascinated me. However, by episode 3 you realise that the link is not only tenuous, but not really explored fully in this doc as ultimately its not all that relevant to the specifics of the Son of Sam case.
One thing I found odd about this particular documentary ways the narration. The tone of narration is a little cheesy and reminds me of "ancient aliens", cheapening and almost discrediting how well the rest of the documentary is put together. It makes it seem like a conspiracy, rather than a legitimate fact based documentary.
One thing I will say about the first person narration is it brings us in to the investigation. We start to unpick the mystery along with Maury Terry (played my an actor in this doc) as he narrates his findings.
Perhaps the tone and emphasise within the narration was meant to add drama and make for more exciting viewing, but ultimately I found it distracting.
The use of real footage and news reports have completely the opposite effect. This documentary doesn't hide away from the gory details. Unlike other documentaries that use over dramatic recreations, the use of real footage seem brutally honest. It not only sets the tone for the doc, but is a sharp reminder that all this horror is real.
The music, lighting and colour pallet all lend to this idea that something sinister is lurking in the dark, just under the surface.
Much like Berkowitz himself.
Son of Sams leaves me with two burning questions:
1. Even if it was to cover their own backs, why did the police not fully investigate the facts that they were presented with?
2. How much of this is one mans obsession fired up my media sensationalism. And how much is real?
One things for sure, the graphic images and first had testimony has earnt this documentary its 18 rating.