Murder by the Coast – Netflix Documentary Review

Another Gripping Netflix Documentary

In 1999, 19 year old Rocio Wanninkhof was murdered. Her Mother’s ex-partner, Dolores Vazques is suspected as the most likely culprit… but is she really responsible? When 17 year old Sonia is found dead not long after, 5 days after being reported missing, the case is blown wide open.

Murder by the Coast is another absorbing and shocking documentary film on Netflix. Instead of dragging this one out to 4 or 5 episodes though, the filmmakers wisely stick to a condensed run-time of under 90 minutes. The result is a gripping and more streamlined experience, one that keeps you hooked right up until the very end.

The first half of the film looks at Rocio and her murder. From her family dynamic to boyfriend Toni, no stone is left unturned. After some brief introductions, we learn Rocio left her boyfriend’s house and never showed up back home.

From here, a timeline starts to weave itself around this investigation. With the Civil Guard under a lot of pressure to wrap up this case,  blame is placed on Dolores Vazques because she “hated” Rocio. The shocking applause when she’s convicted speaks volumes about the need to blame someone – anyone – for Rocio’s murder.

The second half of this movie then turns its attention to the botched forensics, the second victim and the subsequent arrest of the real murderer. For first time viewers unfamiliar with this case, I won’t spoil that here but suffice to say it’s a pretty shocking turn of events.

Yet again though, Murder by the Coast shines an uncomfortable light on the police force and the shortcuts taken to get a conviction. We’ve seen this in numerous other films and series too, but it’s no less shocking here.

The film does a great job laying out all the facts too, with face to face interviews juxtaposed with archival footage of police and forensic reports.

As a minor gripe, Murder by the Coast does have a tendency to repeatedly show bedrooms as establishing shots while introducing the victims. This, coupled with another few shots repeatedly used, are a bit disappointing. It’s not a deal breaker but the run-time is short enough to make it noticeable.

If you’re unfamiliar with this case though, Murder by the Coast does a great job laying out all the facts on the table. Rocio and Sonia’s deaths are shocking and there’s some pretty tough scenes in this too. If you’re a fan of true-crime docs, this is another that’s well worth a watch.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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