Review by Camden Ferrell
This year alone, Netflix will have two films about notorious serial killer Charles Cullen. The first is The Good Nurse, a movie based on the book of the same name that came out earlier this year. The second is Capturing the Killer Nurse, a documentary about the events on which the book and movie are based. This documentary is directed by documentary filmmaker Tim Travers Hawkins. Even though the subject matter is interesting, and all of the aspects of the story are laid out, the telling of events is fairly bland throughout and doesn’t do much to engage its audience.
Charles Cullen was a nurse in the Northeast United States. In his time in the healthcare world, he made bonds with many of his coworkers and was known for his kindness. However, throughout his career, he was responsible for the murder of many of his patients. This is an interesting case with a lot of moving parts, some of which will surprise audiences, and it has the potential to be a riveting documentary.
Unfortunately, from the start, the documentary does nothing to add personality to the way it tells its story. It’s as standard and lifeless a documentary like this could possibly be. It plays out like an episode of informational television that you might see on cable during the day. It features bland narration and tired methods of storytelling that do nothing to enhance the viewing experience.
The movie features interviews with real people involved with the case, and they are one of the more interesting parts despite not being great all of the time. They provide a great perspective to the story being told, but even their recollection of events isn’t particularly engaging all of the time.
Another aspect that is commendable is how thorough its explanation of events was. It lays out all of the elements in this case. This exemplifies how the movie has all of the right ingredients to make a compelling documentary but just lacked the vision and execution to really work.
Capturing the Killing Nurse is informative, but it doesn’t succeed particularly well at holding your attention in order to learn everything you can about the case. There are very few unique things about the documentary and its effects, and it ultimately hinders one of the more tragic and interesting serial killer cases in American history.
Capturing the Killer Nurse is streaming on Netflix November 11.