A frightening true crime story – perhaps one not to watch alone...NETFLIX

The Keepers is literally the best thing I have ever watched. I love watching films and documentaries about murder. There is nothing that I would prefer to do. A well-made murder documentary is, to me, what a Fabergé egg must be to an art dealer, or a signet ring to a Pitt Club member.

“Just looking at the image of Sister Cesnik on the content cover sends an ice-cold chill down by spine”

In many respects, it is the audiovisual experience which surpasses the story of the murder being told. A top-flight producer will be able to turn a seemingly straightforward or unremarkable crime into a thrilling and traumatic experience for the viewer.

This is undeniably the case with the Netflix series The Keepers. I sacrificed an entire evening, as well as the early (and not-so-early hours) of the following morning, when I should have been reading about Korea’s industrial policy in the 1960s, riveted to this gripping documentary.

The Keepers is distressing, harrowing and, fundamentally, just scary. It is a documentary which explores the 1969 murder of an American nun, Catherine Cesnik, although it has a much wider scope as the murder is inextricably connected to the crimes and illicit behavior of the Baltimore Police, the Catholic Church, and, indeed, the Maryland state government. Just looking at the image of Sister Cesnik on the content cover sends an ice-cold chill down by spine.

Trailer for The KeepersYOUTUBE

The filmmaker, Ryan White, succeeds in finding the elusive ingredient that a crime documentary needs for it to graduate from ‘interesting’ to ‘addictive and mind-bending’. The Keepers does this by incessantly germinating doubt in the viewer’s mind, through pure confusion, the description of alibis, testimonies, and disputed evidence.

The documentary shows saddened and innocent protagonists, such as Gerry Koob (Catherine Cesnik’s boyfriend at the time of her murder) only to end the documentary with nail-biting suspense by crushing this naive, and presumably innocent, portrayal through doubt and suspicion.


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Through its seven episodes, The Keeper draws a spider-web of despicable and widespread crime: Cathy Cesnik was the unfortunate centre of a wide-reaching array of state and church-led crime. The Keeper reveals an almost unbelievable scale and depth of sickening human behaviour and truly makes one question how such a quantity of horrific crimes could remain suppressed for so long.

Coincidentally, one of my favourite films happens to be Spotlight, which shares a lot of commonalities with The Keeper. Namely, both reveal the Catholic Church, in Boston and Baltimore respectively, to be morally bankrupt and providing impunity to its clergy against sickening crimes committed against the most vulnerable members of society. Watching these two in succession is a potent combination of gripping plot and superlative filmmaking

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