A shocking and chilling true crime doc
Capturing the Killer Nurse is the quintessential documentary companion piece to Netflix drama, The Good Nurse. This 90 minute movie fleshes out the background and horrific instances of Cullen’s killings, complete with eyewitness reports, police interviews and actual archival pictures from the time. There are even some chilling audio recordings from Cullen too.
For those unaware of what happened, Charles Cullen was a New Jersey born serial killer, a man tarred with a horrible upbringing and an eerie fascination with medication. Working as a nurse, Cullen administered overdoses to various patients, claiming he was doing so to spare them from going into cardiac or respiratory arrest. However, this is quickly debunked when it’s unveiled that some of Cullen’s patients weren’t even terminally ill. The man was meticulous and cunning, adding insulin to IV bags or using drugs like digoxin to avoid suspicion.
Although Cullen admits to the murders of between 30-40 patients after his subsequent arrest, some experts argue that the figure could be closer to around 400. If that were true, it would make him one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.
Instead of a focus on Cullen’s psyche and methods specifically, the documentary instead shifts the focus across to the investigators and those working closely with law enforcement, including Amy Loughren who helped to catch Charlie Cullen before he killed more people. The story itself is well paced and there’s a rapidly progressing timeline as well as expository text to confirm what day of the investigation we’re up to.
In terms of aesthetics, the film uses a good deal of talking head interviews mixed with archival shots, blending that further into actual audio largely used over obscure re-enactments that are more suggestive and artistic than actually showing anything gruesome or shocking.
Although well produced, there are times where the film feels a bit over-stylized. Hearing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ being played before and after hearing a sorrowful story about a patient humming this is a bit on the nose and has an adverse effect on the atmosphere, unfortunately.
Despite that though, Capturing the Killer Nurse is exactly what it says on the tin. This is a 90 minute documentary about capturing Charles Cullen, the killer nurse who went on a deadly spree and caused numerous fatalities while on duty. There’s nothing particularly outstanding here, and if you’ve seen The Good Nurse then this will likely hold few surprises. Despite that, this is a decent companion piece and another true crime film that’s well worth a watch.
Verdict - 7.5/10