True East Part 1
True East Part 2
A Public Apology
Trial By Fire
8th and H
The Labor Day Murders
In many ways The Confession Tapes will draw a lot of similarities to the critically acclaimed documentary Making A Murderer. With a similar pace and presentation, this true crime documentary sheds light on the darker side of law enforcement. With an unbiased approach to each story and interviews with people on both sides of the fence, each story is presented in a fair and thought provocative way that brings some serious question marks about the American justice system.
Each case gravitates around real life footage capturing the shocking coerced confessions and brings scrutiny around the manner in which each is gained. The cases are shrouded in enough mystery to cast doubts about the validity in which they’re gained and with each episode (with the exception of the two part opener) wrapped up in 45 minutes, there’s a much stronger sense of urgency compared to Making A Murderer. Each episode follows a familiar pattern, with experts going into meticulous detail about the case and the episodes split into different parts – the investigation, the trial and the aftermath – this familiar set up helps make each episode feel like a collective whole whilst still distinct in their own right. As would be expected from a series like this, not all the episodes are as endearing as the excellent two part opener and with such heavy material being explored, its a tough series to binge in one go and is better enjoyed with one episode at a time.
The presentation in The Confession Tapes is very nicely done too. There’s a good mix of camera shots used here, with some close ups of mundane items and slow motion helping to bring the focus on the voice over accompanied by a minimalist musical score. As a nice touch, the episodes jump to a black screen during interviews to show who’s speaking to try and set it apart from other documentaries that go for the traditional white writing at the bottom of the screen.
Whilst this Netflix series does its best to stay as unbiased as possible, there’s still a few question marks around a few of the cases that give the feeling we aren’t seeing the whole picture. Whilst this isn’t a deal breaker and the episodes themselves are very nicely presented and informative enough to paint a picture of the case, its still a little disconcerting that we might not be seeing everything. Of course, these concerns may well be fruitless but its still worth bringing it up nonetheless.
Overall, The Confession Tapes is a brilliantly constructed series that builds on the success of Making A Murderer to deliver 6 cases across 7 episodes that highlight the darker side of law enforcement. It brings the American justice system under scrutiny and with a relatively unbiased outlook, interviewing people on both sides of the fence, this true crime documentary makes for a fascinating, riveting watch. Boasting slick presentation and a good pace throughout, The Confession Tapes is an excellent series and one that deserves to be watched.
Verdict - 8.5/10