Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Disclaimer: May contain sensitive information related to a True Crime Event. Reader discretion is advised.
Backstory: In the late 70’s New York City was in the grip of an economical and social decline. Many New Yorkers would warn off any out-of-towners desiring to come and live in the Big Apple due to the rising crime rate, prostitution, and aggressive behaviour. However, 1976 marked a year that became one of the most terrifying for New Yorkers due to the random killing spree of the “.44 Caliber Killer”, so named because the killer’s weapon of choice was a Bulldog .44 Special caliber revolver.
There was immense pressure put on the New York City Police Department to catch this killer. They would also receive letters from the killer mocking them and promising to do further crimes. However, in August 1977 the police caught their big break and arrested David Berkowitz who became known as the “Son of Sam” because when he confessed to the murders he claimed to be following the orders of a demon that spoke to him through his neighbour Sam’s dog, a black Labrador. He was deemed unfit to stand trial due to his mental state and was sentenced to serve six consecutive life terms.
Review: Netlfix’s four-part documentary series The Sons of Sam: Descent into Darkness follows the story of what became a lifelong obsession for a New York investigative journalist named Maury Terry. He was convinced that the New York serial killer known as David Berkowitz aka the Son of Sam aka the .44 Caliber Killer did not act alone and that he became the scapegoat for an immense network of ritualistic killers that were part of a satanic cult.
The series literally feels like a descent into a spiraling rabbit hole filled with numerous connections, coincidences, and conspiracy theories all based on Terry’s investigations and interviews. It is also a descent into the madness of the journalist’s unhealthy obsession with this case. Even though the docu-series is just four episodes it is a bit tough to get through because at times it would seem that Terry’s obsession almost went around in circles trying to connect all the dots in order to have the authorities reopen the case.
He even discovered what might have been a connection between the Son of Sam killing spree and the Charles Manson murders: that they might have been part of the same satanic cult. However, there is some particularly solid evidence in the Manson slayings that indicate it could have just been committed to detour an investigation into the murder of a drug dealer who Manson killed over a soured drug deal. And this kind of throws one of Terry’s theories out the window.
While it was interesting to see how the connections were made, and the extensive research that was undertaken in order to corroborate the evidence, it did cause the pacing of the series to drag at certain points and may decrease the interest of the audience.
Terry, who also wrote books about his investigations (The Ultimate Evil <1988>, Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: The Son of Sam and Beyond <1999>, The Ultimate Evil: An Investigation into America’s Most Dangerous Satanic Cult <2015>) died in 2015 from heart failure at the age of 69, and filmmaker Joshua Zeman had access to Terry’s notes in order to make this series. To see others who knew Maury Terry in life, and discuss who he was as a person, is to see their marked admiration for a man who was willing to risk it all in order to find the truth hidden below the surface.
Alice’s Score: 6 out of 10
So have you checked out the docuseries? What did you think of it? You can check out more of my true crime documentary reviews below:
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More