Making a Murderer: Eighteen Years Lost

2015, Crime  -  65 min Leave a Comment
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The highly acclaimed Netflix original documentary series Making a Murderer has riveted millions of armchair sleuths and ignited a grassroots movement around the plight of its principle character - Steven Avery. Sent to prison for a sexual assault against which he unwaveringly protested his innocence, he was later freed based on DNA evidence after serving 18 arduous years of his sentence. Law enforcement, having suffered the embarrassment of a botched case, is even more displeased when Avery decides to file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Manitowok County, Wisconsin in retaliation for his unlawful imprisonment.

But on the eve of this costly legal action, police arrest him once again. This time, the charge is murder. Is Avery innocent of this crime as well - as he so vehemently claims - and do these new charges indicate a frame-up by the shamed police force? Or is he really the monster that law enforcement, and many weary residents throughout his small town, believe him to be?

The first episode of this ten-part series - titled Eighteen Years Lost - opens on Avery's triumphant return home after serving a long stint in prison. His Herculean struggles, coupled with the unusual circumstances surrounding his conviction and eventual exoneration, have made him a bit of a local celebrity. Avery appears to take it all in stride, and seems eager to put his life back in order alongside his loved ones. But readjusting to the outside world presents more challenges than he may have originally anticipated.

Like expert and cunning crime novelists, directors Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos begin to weave the complicated and colorful backstory of Steven Avery and his eccentric family. We learn of their outsider status within the community, and hear from townspeople who regarded them with curiosity and skittishness. When a woman survives a brutal rape and attempted murder in the black of night, and later fingers Steven Avery as the culprit in a police line-up, the news strikes some as not at all surprising.

The events surrounding his initial arrest and sloppy conviction are captivatingly detailed in the first episode. As the cops close in on Avery for a second time - this time for a heinous murder they believe was committed on his property - we've been thoroughly entranced by the unfurling of a sinister mystery, and a troubling peek inside a deeply flawed criminal justice system.