Capturing the Killer Nurse

I watched my third documentary of the day, this time on Netflix, but this was a very familiar story. Capturing the Killer Nurse is a new documentary that detailed the mass murderer Charlie Cullen, a male nurse who had killed dozens of patients at the hospitals that he had worked.

I say it was familiar because just a few weeks ago, I watched a movie on Netflix called The Good Nurse, which was the true story of Charlie Cullen, starring Eddie Redmayne and Jessica Chastain.

This documentary started off with the voice of Charlie Cullen in recordings he made after he had been arrested. That kicked things off dramatically. There were also interviews with all of the main components involved with Cullen, including Amy Loughren, the nurse who helped the police get evidence against Cullen at great personal risk, Donna Hargreaves, another nurse who worked with Cullen, Danny Baldwin and Tim Braun, who worked the case against Cullen, and several members of the victims’ families.

The story of Charlies Cullen and the process of capturing him is compelling, no doubt. It is a story that has moments that are difficult to believe. Unfortunately, most of this documentary was extremely standard and very little stood out as a well filmed or risk taking documentary. The music in the background ranged from annoying to downright obscene (the whole ‘Sunshine of My Life’ stuff was horrific). Much of this documentary reminded me of the basic TV true crime stories you may see on Discovery or Court TV.

This basically just states the crimes in a timeline of events, not engaging with the narrative. The documentarians were fortunate that this story is as compelling as it is, because the tension was not built by anything else besides the tale.

What I would have liked was more details, more depth about the series of hospitals that allowed Cullen to work for them despite there being evidence or, at the very least, suspicion that he was involved with something shady. What some of these hospital administrators did was unbelievably wrong and simply criminal, and they shuffled this nurse off because of a bottom line. That is something I want to know more about. This doc touched on this aspect of the case, but it did not go into enough details.

Overall, this doc is a basic one that does a good job of telling the story, but does not provide any special manner of involving the audience outside of just telling the tale. It is a story that people need to know, but it is covered better in the movie The Good Nurse than it is here. I assume Netflix considered those two films as complimentary, but The Good Nurse is considerably stronger.

2.75 stars

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