Looking for a good crime documentary on Netflix? Killer Legends will certainly be recommended. But we’d recommend against it.
For this article, I decided to go back to my roots, so to speak, and do a review on the Netflix documentary Killer Legends. Since I’ve been a fan of mythology since I was old enough to understand what it is, this is actually quite a fitting return.
So what does ‘crime’ have to do with mythology? Crime, especially violent crime is remembered, and as time goes on the details change from telling to telling, almost like a game of telephone throughout history – the best example perhaps being Jack the Ripper.
Mr Ripper murdered and savagely mutilated five women in the Whitechapel district of London in the 1880s and seemingly got away with it. The murders were never solved and the culprit never caught or identified. Everyone wanted to know who the Ripper was, why he was killing women and, most of all, when he would be caught. Even now, almost 130 years later we’re still trying to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper. Today, there are over a hundred theories on the Ripper’s identity so it’s fair to say that he is a somewhat legendary figure.
What’s all this got to do with anything?
Well, this is the basis of Killer Legends.
Killer Legends – First Impressions: “It’s done?”
Killer Legends is a documentary that follows two journalists who look into the true crime stories that inspired urban legends. Sounds cool, right? Well… not really. I found the documentary on Netflix a few weeks back and while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good either.
Clocking in at an 84 minute runtime, the documentary focuses on four different urban legends and the crime stories behind them; not a very original concept but I was bored and there really wasn’t anything else that appealed to me, so I gave this one a watch.
Initially I thought this would be a series of documentaries, something like Air Crash Investigations or Seconds from Disaster where each episode would be on a different urban legend. Sadly that wasn’t the case, but I was still curious enough to keep watching. As the documentary went on, however, I slowly found myself losing interest in some aspects of it.
When it was over, my overall thought was: “It’s done? Really?”
Don’t get me wrong, the concept is interesting enough and I think there should be more shows like this one, but in the end this particular attempt just didn’t impress me.
So, what was good about Killer Legends?
I certainly enjoyed the concept behind the documentary. Killer Legends has a truly awesome concept, tracing ghost stories to their origins (so to speak). Sadly, they don’t cash in on that concept.
It’s also got very decent cinematography. The locations are wonderfully shot and overall the whole documentary is very nice to look at.
The stories behind the legends were also interesting – sometimes – and I loved seeing how the legends influenced popular culture. Admittedly though I could’ve done without the crime scene photos.
The pacing is pretty consistent. It’s slow and steady which is a nice change from the usual in-your-face style that some of these documentaries go with. Although, this only extends so far.
And finally, the presenters, while a little stiff, were able to keep me invested in the stories they were tracing. And that’s not very easy when it’s late Friday night and the rest of the documentary is making me sleepy.
What was bad about Killer Legends?
The tone of Killer Legends is very… dry. I don’t really know how else to describe it; it’s just lifeless. There’s nothing that’s really interesting happening. Yes, the stories behind the legends are interesting (and disturbing) but other than that it just felt like the film was trying maybe a bit too hard to keep my interest.
In terms of pacing, there is enough time to cover each of the four urban legends, but where most documentaries/films/series will give viewers a chance to breathe between the different segments, Killer Legends doesn’t. They move from one legend to the next with little to no room to breathe in between. What breathing room there is consists of generally two or three minutes of driving from one place to the next.
Killer Legends is a case study in missed opportunities
This is one of those instances where the concept is great but ultimately unreachable. As I said earlier, they didn’t cash in on the concept as much as they could have. For what I gather were budgetary reasons, the initial concept to create a series exploring the origins of various urban legends was cut from a series into an anthology TV film. From a professional, business standpoint that makes sense. A series takes time and often a lot of money to shoot, and due to the time constraints placed on shooting each episode things could possibly go downhill really quickly.
Personally, I would’ve preferred Killer Legends to be a series with whole episodes dedicated to a legend as opposed to the 20 minutes (approximately) allotted to fit within the documentary’s 84 minute runtime. This unfortunately means that we can’t get information about the legend which was, to me at least, the major draw of the series.
On a related note, considering that the series is about the true stories behind the urban legends it makes sense to focus on the crimes that inspired the legend in question, but I would’ve loved to see more focus on the legends themselves as well.
Killer Legends isn’t bad, there are some aspects of it that are very interesting. But sadly, the filmmakers weren’t able to truly cash in on those interesting points. Some of the crime scene photos were really disturbing and as such finding pictures for this article was a genuine nightmare.
It’s not for everyone, as I’m sure this review somewhat points out. Some people will find it boring and others will find it interesting. In my case, I was already familiar with some of the stuff they were talking about (i.e. the killer clown bit).
I’m not likely to watch it again as, frankly, I think there are more interesting things to watch on Netflix. But if you’re curious and want something different then check this one out; maybe you’ll enjoy it. As for me, I’m going to be a bit more picky about what I watch on Netflix.
I’d also like to know your thoughts, so hit me up on twitter (@AnimeCrazyNut) and let me know if you’ve seen Killer Legends, what did you think of it? Did you enjoy it? Why/Why not?
If you’re looking for more Netflix related coolness then check out this article on why Marvel should make a Black Panther Netflix series
You can also check out this article on why Killmonger is the best MCU Villain so far.
See you guys for the next one!