The true crime content factory over at Netflix gets to a unique angle on the story of David Berkowitz, a.k.a. The Son of Sam. DirectorJoshua Zemantries to wrap his arms around the life story of Maury Terry, a journalist who became convinced that Berkowitz didn’t act alone, that he was the scapegoat for a larger cabal of satanic killers. Terry’s story could have been a dissection of what obsession can do to a man as the author ofThe Ultimate Evil: An Investigation of America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cultwatched his life fall apart because too few people took his theories seriously. It's not really that. The big problem at the core of “The Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness” is a lack of confidence in how to approach Terry’s ideas. Was he a conspiracy-driven nut who allowed an admittedly shoddy police investigation and a charismatic sociopath to ruin his life? If that’s the case, and it seems to be where Zeman’s series ends up, why do we spend so much time elevating Terry’s investigation, only to watch him lead Berkowitz through an awkward interview that makes it clear none of this is adding up? “Sons of Sam” starts to feel cruel, as if it’s leaning into justifying Terry’s theories for hours only to knock him off his pedestal again.
Terry’s descent down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories around David Berkowitz fuels “Sons of Sam,” but it’s handled in such a tabloid, sensational way with the kind of logic that makes real journalists furious. Zeman only occasionally gives screen time to the investigators who believe the case was solved correctly, devoting much of his energy to unpacking the tiny bits of evidence that Terry built his life around like the sketches, a possible nickname in one of the Son of Sam letters that pointed elsewhere, and signs of satanic activity in the area—Terry clearly fell into the trap of “Satanic Panic“这影响了80年代的犯罪新闻和调查。Zeman不断呈现“嗯，你不能证明他didn’t有一个帮凶。“这不是它的工作原理。你不能证明消极。这是导致pizzagate的逻辑，因为我们不能最终证明这个婴儿aren’tbeing eaten in a pizza restaurant basement.
The most frustrating thing about “Sons of Sam” is that the real story of what happened to Maury Terry is constantly overshadowed by the sensational “如果” presentation. The truth is that the cops bungled elements of this investigation, rushing to a conclusion before all the loops were closed. However, that doesn’t mean they reached the wrong conclusion. They could have been incompetent in places but still got the right man. And Zeman doesn’t dig enough into how Berkowitz’s communication with Terry shaped his life. A charismatic sociopath derailed a journalist’s entire existence—that’s a hell of a documentary. Instead we get extended, repetitive sequences that most armchair detectives could refute in a sentence like “Witness sketches aren’t reliable. Next?”
很明显，Zeman开始相信Terry的事件版本，这种信念掩盖了关于“Sam的儿子”的一切。他说在最近的一次采访中,特里”的关键unlocking one of the great mysteries of all time”. If he did, “Sons of Sam” doesn’t make that case. It presents a few loose ends—most major serial killer cases have them, to be honest—and then digs into every potentially explosive piece of evidence like it’s the Zapruder film. The series then culminates in an interview between Terry and Berkowitz that kind of dismantles everything, as the journalist feeds answers to the killer and the killer can barely even tell him what he wants to hear. Was Berkowitz just messing with Terry for all that time? That’s a fascinating story—how Maury Terry became another victim of the Son of Sam. It’s just so hard to see it here through all the darkness.