This Is Netflix’s Best Crime Documentary Of The Year

This is not for the faint of heart.

In 2017, a horrendous murder trial dominated the airwaves. Swedish journalist Kim Wall disappeared after traveling in a homemade submarine with Danish inventor Peter Madsen. While Madsen initially claimed to have dumped her the day before. But as the investigation unfolded and the months passed, it was revealed that Wall wasn’t just murdered. She was tortured, raped, murdered and dismembered by Madsen. Now, Netflix has released a new Emma Sullivan documentary called In the deep which chronicles these harrowing events from an incredibly unique perspective.

Let’s go back to 2016, when Sullivan first learned that Madsen was simply an inventor who founded the Rocket Madsen Space Lab and wanted to build an entire spaceship. But he first wanted to make a submarine, for reasons that would later become known. But, before the horrific events of 2017, Madsen was just another eccentric inventor with a big dream. Sullivan then contacted him and began filming the work done by him and his team of interns and volunteers at the Danish lab.

Little did Sullivan know that this documentary would take a very dark and sharp turn just a year after she began filming. Unknowingly, she captures a true crime story as she films her and her team’s reactions in real time to realizing Madsen is a monster. This is really what he does In the deep such a blow to the stomach. We see how a group’s understanding of a close friend and mentor quickly evaporates when their crimes are revealed. With every new detail, from Madsen revealing that Wall actually died aboard her to him revealing that he did, in fact, dismember her but didn’t kill her. Sullivan documents the journey she and the team go through as they learn new and terrifying things about the case.

Sullivan not structure In the deep as a straightforward narrative that begins in 2016 and ends in the present. Instead, it weaves together images from before and after Wall’s assassination to create a more complex tapestry of who Madsen was, or at least who was representing himself. All of his statements in the past have a much darker context knowing what he would do to Wall in just a few months. There is a particularly shocking moment where he talks about psychopaths and how there can be only one.

The unfolding story is filled with horrific realizations that this may have been Madsen’s plan all along. It was not about a scientific discovery, but about the ability not only to commit murder but also to cause pain. The investigation revealed that Madsen had a hard drive full of snuff movies and planned to make his own. On the day of Wall’s death, he had Googled words like “decapitation,” “dismemberment” and “agony.” Unbeknownst to anyone, he brought torture implements such as saws onto the boat. On top of that, a subject in the documentary, one of Madsens’ colleagues, explains how he sent weird text messages about taking her out on the sub and slitting her throat. What he had initially dismissed as strange flirtation turned into evidence that Madsen had been planning something like this for some time.

That is perhaps one of the most disturbing aspects of this film. This woman, whose face is digitally replaced to protect her identity, slowly realizes that she was on Madsen’s list of possible victims. She could have suffered a fate similar to Wall’s. On camera, she realizes that she needs to call the police and reveal everything. She puts a hole in your stomach seeing this happening almost in real time.

There was quite a bit of controversy around In the deep around its initial release at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020. Since the documentary Sullivan set out to make and the one he ended up making were so drastically different, some interview subjects requested that they be removed. So for the Netflix version, Sullivan made a lot of cuts to ensure the subjects’ privacy. Also, to note, no members of Wall’s family are involved in this documentary.

Weather In the deep doesn’t offer a definitive answer here, evidence captured on camera and revealed in court shows that Madsen may have made this sub with the intent to kill. It was not about a scientific discovery, but about exerting power and pain over women. Madsen most likely used the free labor of his volunteers and interns to make a floating torture chamber. And what’s even more terrifying was that he deceived everyone. So if you want to take a walk through the darker sides of humanity, watch this one on Netflix now.

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