Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Documentary: I Survived BTK

Review: Documentary: I Survived BTK.
By William Pattison, aka Eric Morse
For Horror Bob’s Blog

I usually don’t review documentary films. It’s not that I don’t like documentaries; it’s that I’ve never felt the need to comment on them. To me a documentary is a learning experience; it’s not supposed to be entertainment. But there are always exceptions to the rule. One of those exceptions is Marc David Levitz’s Documentary, I Survived BTK.
This is a very important film in that unlike other films and documentaries about serial killers rather than making an icon out of the killer and treating the victims and their families as third class players, Levitz focuses on the surviving family members, mostly the oldest son, Charlie, of the first victims of the BTK Killer, the Oteros.
As the film begins we meet Charlie Otero, who we find is in jail for aggravated assault. Charlie is one of the surviving members of the Otero family along with his younger sister and his brother. Charlie’s father, mother, sister, and brother were viciously tortured and murdered in 1974 by the infamous BTK killer, Dennis Rader. We hear how two days before the murders Charlie had watched the film In Cold Blood, which was based on the book by Truman Capote about the murder of four members of a family in the area he lived. As the documentary progresses we see how this because an item of guilt with Charlie and how the murders affected his life. After he gets out of jail, we follow Charlie as he take  us  on a bit of a tour through his life after the murders and how he has become estranged from his family and other loved ones, including his own son.
Along the way we are introduced to Steven, who is also a survivor of another family that was destroyed by Dennis Rader. Levitz brilliantly compares these two survivors and shows us the similarities and difference. One thing that shows is how both men use tattoos to deal with their pain.
Then we get to the capture of Rader and his media trial. Levitz handles this in a matter of factly way and avoids making Rader a larger than life character like a lesser documentarian would do. Still, Levitz hits the viewer with the full non-candy coated fact of what Rader did to the Otero family by showing the crime photos as presented in court.
Then Marc Levitz hits you with an emotional punch as the trial ends . Levitz handles this incredibly by showing scenes of Charlie with Steve at a victory pool game. Charlie talks about how after the murders he had grown to hate Truman Capote and how on day of Capote’s death Charlie, who had lost his faith, had been begging the devil to kill Capote. What happens make you honestly consider if Faustian deals do happen…
So if you are a fan of true crime or if you are just curious of the other side of the story of a serial killer, this is the film for you. This film is an emotional ride and a character profile that can’t be missed…

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