Netflix’s ten-part crime documentary Making a Murderer was released on December 18th and is generating a large amount of discussion on the Internet. After the Christmas holidays settled down, we had a chance to check it out and our (hopefully relatively spoiler-free) Making a Murderer review takes a look at the latest documentary from the streaming service.
There’s no doubt that Netflix has been hitting it out of the park lately with its original content, especially some of the series that have been running exclusively on the service as of late. As enjoyable as those are, I have to admit that Making a Murderer takes the cake so far. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading and just go watch it. Trust me, it’s that good — and if you’re not convinced, check out the trailer below.
If you don’t have Netflix, you can get a bigger taste of the series with the first episode below:
If you’re still reading this, this true-crime documentary series was 10 years in the making. Filmmakers Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi first caught wind of the Steven Avery case back in 2005 while in film school at Columbia University. Shortly after they moved to Wisconsin to be closer to the trials and to make it easier to film the documentary. The series starts off briefly covering the conviction of Steven Avery, a Manitowoc County, Wisconsin man who was convicted of rape in 1985, only to be cleared by DNA evidence 18 years later in 2003. After filing a $36 million civil suit for wrongful incarceration in 2005, Avery soon found himself to be charged with the murder of Teresa Halbach, a photographer working for Auto Trader. In order to remain spoiler-free, that’s about all I’ll say about the plot.
The first couple episodes deal with the initial rape conviction and subsequent civil lawsuit, while the latter part of the second episode and the remaining episodes deal with the disappearance and murder of Teresa Halbach and the trials of Steven Avery and his (then) 16-year-old nephew, Brendan Dassey. Throughout the investigation and subsequent trials, twists and turns, and straight-up negligence, coercion, and even ineptitude will cause you no shortage of screen rage. From the way the police conducted the investigation, to the interrogations of Brendan Dassey, to the actions of District Attorney Ken Kratz when speaking to the media will have you shaking your head in disbelief over and over again.
Of course, this is a documentary, and there sometimes tends to be a bias towards one side or another — intended or not. Making a Murderer does a great job of trying to stick with the facts of the case, and fortunately, the filmmakers had a treasure trove of footage to work with in addition to their own footage and interactions with members of the Avery family. While the filmmakers have been accused of leaving stuff out or downplaying certain incidences, I do feel like the documentary is as impartial as it can be given the circumstances and what the filmmakers had to work with, while covering both the trial and how it affected the Avery family in particular. In the end, you’ll most likely still be left wondering if the proper verdict was rendered or not, and you may just be left wondering who really murdered Teresa Halbach as well.
At the end of it all though, you may wonder just how fair the justice system is when you’ve been accused of a crime. Honestly, I hope I never face that situation of being falsely accused of a crime, especially after watching Making a Murderer.
The hardest part about watching the series, aside from the obvious ineptitude and gross negligence of certain members of the Manitowoc County police, is avoiding spoilers on the Internet. As more people complete the series, more theories, outrage, and other comments are quickly filling up the web. After you’ve watched it, you might want to head over and read this article at Buzzfeed in which the filmmakers respond to some of the gaps and criticisms in the series. And of course, where would we be without a Reddit thread about it?
Have you watched Making a Murderer yet? If so, let us know in the comments below what you thought. For those that haven’t, I can’t guarantee there won’t be any spoilers in the comments, so “click to comment” at your own risk!