I’m a pretty regular true crime junkie. It’s always been something I enjoy watching or reading about. I especially love being able to share my thoughts and opinions on it with other like-minded fiends. Hell, I’m even married to someone that’s more into true crime than I am! It’s a regular thing in my household from Last Podcast on the Left to Mindhunter, we can’t get enough. There’s just something so fascinating about how people can commit such heinous and inhuman acts upon people as if it’s as simple as brushing your teeth. That’s why I was absolutely giddy (yes giddy) about checking out the latest true-crime documentary series, THE SONS OF SAM: A DESCENT INTO DARKNESS.
THE SONS OF SAM follows the case of the .44 killer as he’s being hunted by the NYPD while Author and Investigative journalist Maury Terry simultaneously hunts for his own clues that take him down a path far darker he could have ever imagined.
To be honest, David Berkowitz is the one “serial killer” or “true crime specimen” I’ve read the least about. I know about the dog telling him to kill, the victims, etc., but I’ve never dug that much into information about him. I had heard of the cases potentially involving accomplices but I just never took that much time to investigate it. With that in mind, I was very excited to dive into THE SONS OF SAM. Yes, “Sons.”
At first, the Netflix docuseries starts fairly cut and dry. Similar to The Night Stalker docu-series, it starts off setting the scene and creating buildup to the murders. As the show progresses, you’re provided a bit of insight into David’s life, how he was adopted and raised, his time in the military and how his upbringing was a bit sad because of him feeling like an outcast. All of this felt the same as any other true-crime documentary. They try to humanize him multiple times throughout the series and I did feel myself becoming a bit annoyed about that. I mean, I love true crime and I love seeing some pretty messed up stuff in horror movies (Italian mostly) but I can’t get down with feeling empathy for a killer.
Through the course of David’s trial an investigative reporter, Maury Terry, starts to become obsessed with uncovering hidden details that the NYPD had missed. According to the NYPD, the case was cut and dry. However, if we know anything about NYPD in the ’70s is that they were sloppy but I didn’t know it was to this degree. At least to the degree that Maury makes it seem with his sleuthing. The level of investigation that Maury puts himself through was honestly inspiring and extremely entertaining, although he was discredited and called a conspiracy theorist. Honestly, while this is a documentary called THE SONS OF SAM: A DESCENT INTO DARKNESS and focuses on the involvement of other people as well, I truly think it was a retrospective on Maury Terry, which I didn’t hate.
Maury begins to make all of these connections after speaking with eyewitnesses to the SOS shootings and things begin to not add up i.e. “If this shooting happened on this block at this time, then why did people run into David on this other block 2 minutes prior. It was these connections that made it impossible for David to be the gunman at some of the scenes. The NYPD didn’t like this. As Maury continues to investigate, he starts to uncover evidence of occult activities and satanic rituals which spins the series into an area I was completely not expecting. I’m a huge fan of the occult in film and pop culture (like in the ’60s) so I was ecstatic. Due to the nature of Maury’s book, The Ultimate Evil, it was one of the sparks that began the Satanic Panic movement in the ’80s. I always love hearing what people think Satanism is from an uneducated perspective, so a lot of this section of the docu-series was very entertaining for me.
THE SONS OF SAM: A DESCENT INTO DARKNESS is a truly gripping and very smart documentary series that doesn’t read as your run-of-the-mill true crime doc. It offers so much more than many other things I’ve watched, included the Netflix docu-series Night Stalker: Hunt for a Serial Killer. There are twists and details I never would have even considered within the case, which I believe is what makes it stand out so much for me.
THE SONS OF SAM will be available for streaming on Netflix on May 5th, 2021 and I highly recommend you guys giving it a watch. It’s easy to get through, with only 4 episodes that are about an hour-long each. Don’t miss out!
All images courtesy of Netflix