Toronto True Crime Film Festival Review: WATCHING KARLA HOMOLKA

I’m a born and bred Canadian, and I never fully understood the contrasting differences between my country and our southern neighbours until I began building close relationships with a handful of Americans. My best friend is from the Central Valley of California, and very recently we were exchanging true crime horror stories that plagued our contrasting nations. I honestly was surprised when she told me that she was unfamiliar with the ‘Ken and Barbie Killers’ – Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

Their tale is one that I’ve quite literally lost sleep over. Having taken an interest in true crime at a very young age, I was undoubtedly more eager to explore the dark underbelly of Canadian history above all else. All I had initially known was that this picture-perfect couple raped and murdered three young girls and that the vast majority of it was on videotape.

I didn’t know the intimate details until picking up a book entitled Invisible Darkness by Stephen Williams. Several books have been written on the case, however, I selected this one solely based on the fact that Williams was the only author to have actually viewed the infamous videotapes. He described them in great detail, really demonstrating how large of a role Homolka played in the crimes Bernardo is left to pay for.

I was absolutely disgusted with my country, our justice system… Homolka ended up serving a mere 12-year sentence thanks to a shoddy plea deal that was finalized before the videotapes were discovered. Not only that, but the autopsy details didn’t link up with the testimony Homolka had made against Bernardo. She had several disgusting quotes, most noteworthy would be her claiming that she was ‘more of a victim’ than the girls they had murdered and that she was worried about her ‘hair going to shit’ in prison.

I hated this woman more than anyone on the planet for a very long time. It is still something I don’t like to think about. I’m well aware that it is unhealthy to hold onto anger, but it is so hard to move on when you see justice fail in such a severe way. My apologies for making this review so personal, but I feel as though a bit of background knowledge is necessary when it comes to viewing WATCHING KARLA HOMOLKA.

This eight-minute documentary surprised me, in that I truly was unaware that a Facebook group focusing on tracking the whereabouts of Homolka existed. I deeply empathized with the anger and concern felt by those uncomfortable to have this cold-hearted woman living in close proximity to their daughters. Hell, she even has children of her own.

It is almost too much to wrap your head around, it becomes very difficult to see this issue in black and white – Though what she did was vile and can never be forgiven, there is the moral argument we must all face. Is it okay to harass her because of her past? Is it okay to use extremely violent language against her? Is it okay to follow her every move? These are the questions presented by WATCHING KARLA HOMOLKA, and ones that I have been pondering for years.

Breanna Whipple
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2 thoughts on “Toronto True Crime Film Festival Review: WATCHING KARLA HOMOLKA

  1. I have never understood why her plea deal was not declared null and void when the videotapes showing her willingly involved in the rapes surfaced. One of the conditions of her ‘deal with the devil’ was her complete honesty. The videos proved she’d lied. That should’ve been grounds for a retrial. It must frustrate her victims families dreadfully.
    And what sort of man would marry her and have 3 children with her???

  2. I have read a few books about Holmolka/Bernardo case, including S.Williams book. I live outside Detroit & remember the news coverage of Canadian citizens crossing the border to buy newspapers to read about the case because of the news blackout in Canada in the interest of a fair trial for Bernardo. The books I’ve read either slant the story in favor of Holmolka or Bernardo, theres no 50/50 split as to fault.
    I was particularly stunned with S. Williams book ‘…Darkness ‘, because of what is lightly alluded to on the back cover. It says that ‘copies of the rape/torture video tapes have turned up in underground porn markets in New York & Tokyo’. They are not ‘snuff’ videos. The murders of French & Mahaffy were not recorded. If you understand sexual sadists then you know why. But, if those reports are true, then there are some very sick people in important positions in the Canadian court system. At least in Toronto or Niagra. Has anyone ever investigated these claims? Or did author S. Williams print such a thing in order to sell books? In which case he should be ashamed of himself.

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