Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness Review: A Fascinating Documentary About A Flawed Investigator

Paul Giamatti	...	 Maury Terry4 episodes, 2021  Phil Amicone	Phil Amicone	...	 Self - Brother-in-Law of Maury Terry4 episodes, 2021  Charlie Ott	Charlie Ott	...	 Self - Friend of Maury Terry4 episodes, 2021  Mary Murphy	Mary Murphy	...	 Self - TV Reporter4 episodes, 2021  Michael Zuckerman	Michael Zuckerman	...	 Self - Fmr. Reporter, Gannett Newspapers4 episodes, 2021  Georgiana Byrne	Georgiana Byrne	...	 Self - Former Wife of Maury Terry4 episodes, 2021  Joseph Borrelli	Joseph Borrelli	...	 Self - Ret. Lead Detective, NYPD3 episodes, 2021  Kevin Murphy	Kevin Murphy	...	 Self - Ret. Detective, Yonkers PD3 episodes, 2021  Wayne Darwen	Wayne Darwen	...	 Self - Journalist4 episodes, 2021  Lawrence Klausner	Lawrence Klausner	...	 Self - Author, Son of Sam2 episodes, 2021  Dick Belsky	Dick Belsky	...	 Self - Fmr. Metro Editor, New York Post2 episodes, 2021  Carl Denaro	Carl Denaro	...	 Self - Victim2 episodes, 2021  Kay Amicone	Kay Amicone	...	 Self - Sister of Maury Terry2 episodes, 2021  Gary Lachman	Gary Lachman	...	 Self - Occult Historian2 episodes, 2021  Don Mounts	Don Mounts	...	 Self - Ret. Detective, NYPD

Release date: May 5, 2021
Running time: Four 60 minute episodes
Directed by: Joshua Zeman

The hunt for the “Son of Sam” captivated the world in the late 1970s, but the story behind one of America’s most notorious serial murderers is all but forgotten -- until now. While the arrest and conviction of David Berkowitz brought the nightmare to an end for many New Yorkers, for journalist and Ultimate Evil author Maury Terry, the real mystery was just beginning. Terry, convinced Berkowitz had not acted alone, would go on to spend decades attempting to prove that the web of darkness behind the murders went deeper than anyone imagined – and his pursuit of that elusive truth would eventually cost him everything. Filmmaker Joshua Zeman (CROPSEY, MURDER MOUNTAIN) draws on archival news footage, conversations with the people closest to the investigation, and Terry’s own words and case files to tell a cautionary tale of a man who went down a rabbit hole and never came out. But was Maury Terry just chasing ghosts – or are the true Sons of Sam still out there...

true crime murder serial killer new york david berkowitz
The Sons of Sam weaves an interesting and well researched tale, mostly focusing on the detailed research of Maury Terry, who obsessively pursued this case for his entire life. It consumed him as he tried to prove his theories against a wall of apathy from the NYPD.  The documentary starts with a good primer on the Son of Sam killings, with eyewitness accounts, news articles, and video clips from the time.  The sheer brutality and randomness of the crimes is established early on.  And when the Son of Sam killer is caught, it seems like everything is over and wrapped up.  

But then the documentary goes into the theory of multiple killers, and backs that up with additional evidence, connections, and eye witness accounts.  Although the theory has never been officially acknowledged by the NYPD, Maury Terry and the documentary make a strong case for the idea that there were multiple participants in the Son of Sam killings.  The coincidences, discrepancies in accounts of the shooter, and sheer timing of some of the murders make for a compelling case and any true crime fan will be fascinated by these revelations.  But the documentary also shows how far down the rabbit hole one can go.  It details Maury Terry's obsession with this case and in finding connections and evil in every corner of America.  At some point his theories went from strong to extreme, and that is probably a major reason why we don't have an association of multiple killers. 

The documentary goes in 3 arcs: first detailing the crimes, then expounding on Maury Terry and the multiple shooter theory, and finally going into the major rabbit holes Terry went down in drawing additional connections to the crimes.  This makes sense as the longer you spend with these theories, the more you have to look at Terry and his personal crusade.  But the film is peppered with amazing interviews, news clippings, and news clips from the time and paints a fascinating picture of the theory and the man behind it.  

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness details a fascinating theory and the brilliant but flawed proponent of it with amazing clippings, clips, and plenty of research.

Watch it.

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The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness is available on Netflix on May 5, 2021.

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