Only in Florida – Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003)

The raising of a murderer.  Exactly what the title says, this is about the life and death of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who murdered her johns on at least six separate occasions.  This documentary shows testimony from her trial and interviews leading up to her execution in 2002.  One thing that I didn’t realize about this before my wife and I decided to sit down and check another movie off the list is that this is actually a follow up documentary; the same filmmaker, Nick Broomfield, also released Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer eleven years prior.  Had we known, we probably would have watched it in the opposite order for continuity’s sake, but as it stands, I felt like I learned something about a case that I had limited knowledge on.

1Aileen is… let’s just say she’s an intense person.

This one woman is an object of fascination, even today.  I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with American Horror Story: Hotel, but Lily Rabe portrayed her for a small part.  To be the subject of not one, but two documentaries made by the same man, you know there has to be a good story there, and there is definitely more than what the news media made readily available.  This documentary brings a lot of attention to Aileen’s childhood and the neglect that made her the person who was notorious for her crimes and lifestyle.  It’s pretty disturbing, and the fact that she was doing this within an hour’s drive of where I currently reside just added to the effect.  You really get to see what mental instability she suffered from, and a large portion of what she had to say is how the police let her keep killing so they could bank on selling the rights to her story.  This could very well just be a paranoid delusion, but at the same time, it’s not like this is out of the realm of possibility, as the movie Monster also came out in 2003, the same year as this.

2It even won Charlize Theron an Oscar.

While what is going on in Aileen’s head is up for debate, this is a story that is so crazy that it can only be true.  There are plenty of moments that you pause to process what was just said, only to have a “…what?” reaction.  This girl had a very rough life and upbringing, and this documentary does a great job of making you want to go back and do your own research of your own to separate fact from fiction.  You can tell by how people react to this director when he’s on camera that he has made a lot of enemies for just trying to offer a different point of view.  You can make up your own mind, and this is a fascinating documentary to take in.

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2003) ****

– Critic for Hire

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