In a market saturated with true crime documentaries STARZ’ latest from Joe Berlinger, the man behind The Ted Bundy Tapes and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile starring Zac Efron as Bundy, delivers another harrowing documentary series that’s both shockingly saddening and powerfully important.
The five-episode series tells the more than a timely story of the unprecedented relationship between acclaimed author and journalist Jillian Lauren and the most prolific serial killer in American history, Sam Little, and her race against time to identify his victims before it’s too late. Through the perspectives of Lauren and several female investigators, survivors and victims’ family members, the series shines a light on systemic issues in the criminal justice system including bias against marginalized communities, particularly women of colour, and those struggling with addiction, mental illness, and trauma.
Jillian Lauren certainly has some balls of steel; it is revealed that Lauren’s past has been peppered with domestic abuse and attempted murder, having dealt with these issues herself there is no question of her commitment in giving a voice to the victims of a man who is thought to have murdered over 100 women for his own sexual gratification. She still puts herself in the most vulnerable position, filled with fear to extract the full level of Little’s crimes out of his mouth. As well as emotional moments in front of the camera retelling her journey of numerous meetings of this vile creature within prison walls we get yet another glimpse at the misogynistic and racist law enforcement.
“When I first heard about this story that was exactly what struck me. I have had this experience, as a survivor of domestic violence, attempted murder, I said I can speak to this and in fact, I think a lot of people would prefer to turn away. I think it’s important, I can talk this language and say I had this experience that your mother had, I know she was a person, we can start from there,” stated Jillian Lauren.
Littered with the familiar format of a true-crime series, with a number of experts, including the female Detective Mitzy Roberts who finally brought this man down, we are shown footage of Lauren preparing her work, to scenes taken from the trial of Little. Berlinger, no stranger to a crime story or two, puts his token stamp on the series, with no video footage of the interviews between Lauren and Little, there is audio heard and translated into text scattered across the screen.
“I’ve done quite a bit of crime over the years and generally speaking a lot of the crime I have done has been in the wrongful conviction space. This story just really grabbed my attention because if there was ever somebody worthy of conviction it was this guy, who evaded justice, it was more about neglect. I have never seen a situation where somebody was in the hands of law enforcement so many times, and there were so many opportunities to bring this guy to justice. The baked-in racism and baked-in bias against marginalised communities just made us want to light a fire under the asses of certain people in law enforcement to bring this guy to justice, and it took a bunch of powerful women, detective Mitzy Roberts, the DA Beth Silberman and Jillian Lauren, that’s what attracted to want to tell the story. It’s a window into systemic problems in the justice system.” Berlinger stated.
At times, each episode feels a little stretched out and the mind does start to wonder but It’s hard not to have a fascination with these kinds of documentary series. Berlinger hits the nail on the head representing those who are very rarely listened to, even exposing the male law enforcement officers giving their insight adds fuel to the fire of how women and women from marginalised communities are treated with nothing but contempt. It’s time for a change, but is this enough?
Confronting a Serial Killer will air on STARZPLAY.