American Nightmare Season Review – A top-class true-crime docuseries from Netflix

Season 1



Episode Guide

Episode 1    – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 2    – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 3    – | Review Score – 5/5


Netflix is the self-proclaimed king of true crime and has consistently churned out top-quality real-life crime dramas since the huge success of Making a Murderer in 2015. Their latest offering, American Nightmare, dives into the case of Aaron Quinn and Denise Huskins, a couple from Vallejo, California, who were accused of staging a home invasion and kidnapping back in 2015.

In reality, they were attacked by an ex-marine by the name of Matthew Muller in a terrifying ordeal. Poor Denise experienced the worst part of the ordeal as she was kidnapped, held in captivity at a South Lake Tahoe cabin in the woods, and raped and sexually assaulted before being released 48 hours later. 

Episode 1 primarily focuses on Aaron’s side of the story as he details the awful experience in extensive interviews with the makers of the 3-part documentary series. We see archival footage of the heavy-handed interrogation by the corrupt detective on the case, Mat Mustard, who is destined to be painted as the villain by Netflix’s legion of fans on social media. And rightly so, as this guy appears to be the worst of the worst, with his shocking confirmation bias on the case, likening it to David Fincher’s Gone Girl storyline. It is anything of the sort, and Part 2’s excellent standout episode gives Denise Huskins the chance to tell her side of the story with most of the run time focusing on her retelling of the ordeal she faced at the cabin in the woods. 

Episode 3 focuses on the other cases that eventually led to the exoneration of Aaron and Denise, and we get to meet one of the standout interviewees on the documentary, Sgt. Misty Carausu, who was instrumental in linking the cases. Not many true crime documentaries end on a happy note, but American Nightmare is the exception to this rule, as the case is solved and the person responsible is brought to justice.

No campaigns for the release of wrongly accused people serving long prison sentences or appeals for the audience to become keyboard warriors as they slink into armchair detective mode: just a once-upon-a-time story where the victims live happily ever after. I like that ending. 


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  • Verdict - 10/10

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