American Nightmare

American Nightmare

TV-MA

Real life Gone Girl turns out to be institutional failure in this infuriating, suspenseful docuseries

7.0

TV Show

United Kingdom
English
Documentary
2024

TLDR

It’s scary to imagine any true crime happening to you, but not being believed after asking for help? Terrifying.

What it's about

After Denise Huskins gets kidnapped in 2015, her boyfriend Aaron Quinn calls the police, but the two are suspected of staging the ordeal when Denise reappears.

The take

With stories like Gone Girl and the true crime boom of the 2010s, it’s easy to believe that these depictions are harmless– fake crime stories are fictional, after all, and surely, it’s important to discuss real crime in order to prevent it. New Netflix docu-series American Nightmare portrays a real life case itself, but it questions the impact these stories have towards real life. It depicts what used to be called the “real life Gone Girl” kidnapping, whose investigation and media speculation was colored by these stories, which hindered Huskins’ rescue. The case eventually led to the real culprit, but American Nightmare challenges the viewers themselves, as it stretches the case across three episodes, portraying each angle in the true crime flair we’re used to speculating with.

What stands out

The three episodes are structured to three respective perspectives mentioned in their titles– The Boyfriend, Gone Girl, and The Others. By organizing the show this way, each episode changes the viewers’ own speculation of what really happened. It’s a classic approach, but it’s relevant and it feels more infuriating because of the context of the case.

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