2015 was the year of true crime and despite everyone going gaga over the Serial podcast it dipped and dragged and by the time the last episode came around, I was glad it was over all over and done with. HBO’s The Jinx was a different kettle of fish with fewer episodes and gallons of WTF moments and head-spinning absurdity. For those that haven’t managed to catch the story of Machiavellian maniac Robert Durst, The Jinx should be high on your watch list but even that mighty series cannot compete with Netflix’s Making A Murderer.
The prospect of ten solid hours of documentary film might fill you with horror and dread but if it were eligible for an Oscar, it would be the odds on favourite. Essentially Making a Murderer is the tale of Steven Avery, a man sent to prison for eighteen years for a crime he didn’t commit but it’s more than that, it’s a study of how a family and a community is affected by his conviction and how the establishment conspires to crush Avery and deny him his liberty.
There are twists and turns along the way, genuine villains and crusading heroes. It’s difficult to believe the story is true, at one point I’d convinced myself the series was an elaborate hoax but alas, it is terrifyingly real. Those involved in the conspiracy against Steven have accused the filmmakers of bias but the evidence (or lack of evidence) is there for all to see in the interrogation tapes, the police reports and the demeanour of the snake pit of slippery characters. You will get angry, very angry and you will wonder how the corruption was never previously exposed but you will also be inspired by the compassion of those that firmly believe in Avery’s innocence.
Making a Murderer has raised the bar when it comes to the true crime genre and its success will encourage Netflix to pour money into more intelligent, in-depth films. We’ve already seen some crackers over the last decade, but the golden age of documentaries is definitely upon us.
Making a Murderer is available on Netflix.