DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)

This feature length documentary made by Nick Broomfield documents the life and death of American serial killer Aileen Wuornos who murdered seven men who she claimed has raped or tried to rape her while she was working as a prostitute.

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The case raised great controversy at the time as the judgement to execute Aileen was argued by lawyers who said she was of unsound mind. Her declining mental state in this documentary is chilling as she discusses, in depth to the film maker about the murders and how she feels absolutely no remorse for committing them, that if let out, she would probably murder again.  The film ends with the the final interview Wuornos gave to Broomfield a day before her execution. She tells him that she was tortured in prison and that they used sonic pressure to control her mental state. Broomfield says that he finds it odd that she can be considered of sound mind, following the outburst and finds it strange that the state can condemn her to execution.

The documentary is an exposing look into the American justice system who regularly execute inmates by lethal injection for committing serious crimes. It’s horrifying and unsettling to hear Aileen talk, to watch the relationship between Broomfield and herself develop and then to see her a day before her execution. You almost feel a bit sorry for her because she is clearly totally insane and battling some major internal demons. She is a fright to look at as well and she clearly has had an appalling life up to her incarceration.

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It’s fascinating to watch as you are allowed to take a glimpse into the mind set of someone who knows that their death is imminent, she knows that she will be killed the next day as she is giving her final interview. Her rage may be a way of dealing with that, but it comes across as madness. But you would be mad, wouldn’t you? To be facing certain death for crimes you committed in self defence? The morning of her execution, the film takes a turn and the tone adjusts to something calm and almost peaceful, suggesting the Wuornos herself is finally at peace.

It’s an incredibly difficult watch but an enthralling one. Definitely not for the faint hearted but an eye opening documentary about one woman’s final days on death row, a concept so alien to us across the pond but a common occurrence in the news for all Americans. Nick Broomfield, the ever present documentarian is brilliant at evoking emotion from Aileen and asking her difficult questions anyone else would be terrified of doing. She is a scary woman.

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the American Justice System, the Wuornos case and with a strong stomach. It’s emotional, haunting and 100% real which only makes it all the more spine chilling. The story of her life has also been adapted into the Hollywood film Monster with Charlize Theron portraying Aileen.

Aileen Wuornos: Life and Death of a Serial Killer is available to borrow from the DVD ZONE shelved at 791.4353 A

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