AMERICAN NIGHTMARE on Netflix is a True Crime Documentary Series. It sounds too crazy to be true, but it is a true story. And a very binge-worthy docu-series in three parts. Read our American Nightmare docuseries review here!
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE is a new Netflix docu-series in the true crime subgenre. The story is told over three 45-minute episodes. You’ll probably go from being puzzled, to being stunned, and then you should expect to be angry. Very angry!
The true story told in this documentary will probably have you scratching your head in confusion and then wanting to pull out your hair in anger. Think Gone Girl but with a heavy dose of Victim/Suspect. Finally, before it’s over, justice is served!
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Continue reading our American Nightmare docuseries review below. Find it on Netflix on January 17, 2024.
From one nightmare to the next
On March 23, 2015, Denise Huskins and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn woke up in the dead of the night and found themselves trapped in a real-life nightmare. A home invader was in their bedroom and kidnapped Denise.
Aaron wasn’t quick to call the police, but he gave a reason and explained everything in detail. Too much detail, it turns out, for the police detective’s liking. This results in Aaron quickly being accused of having killed Denise.
Then Denise shows up again. Very much alive, and the police need to pivot, which they manage to do rather effortlessly. They simply compare it to the 2012 Gillian Flynn novel Gone Girl. The movie adaption by David Fincher had just come out in 2014.
Victim or suspect – maybe both?!
While I will try to avoid huge spoilers, the American Nightmare documentary series does deal with a true crime, so the story has already been covered in various news articles. If you don’t want to risk being spoiled, make sure you watch the series first.
At the heart of this story is Denise Huskins. She was kidnapped under what was perceived as rather strange circumstances.
To me, it sounded quite familiar to some of the crimes of The Golden State killer, but I’m sure some victims suffered the same “help” from the police as Denise and her boyfriend.
When Denise disappears, her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, is almost immediately accused of having murdered her. There is no proof of any kind that she is dead. However, the police go from treating him as a victim to a suspect in record time.
Then Denise shows up, stating her kidnapper released her, and now she is accused of lying. More precisely, she’s accused of having done a Gone Girl. Creating a narrative and having faked her kidnapping.
A terrifying and twisted story
Watching the American Nightmare documentary was a mind-blowing experience that unfortunately reminded me of another recent release. The Netflix docu-series Victim/Suspect.
It was unfortunate in the sense that it felt like the police detectives were, once again, doing more harm than good. They take victim-blaming to a whole new level. The kind of level where they threaten with jail time before having any evidence to work with.
Hell, in American Nightmare, a young man goes from being told he’s only at the police station as a victim giving his statement to being called a serial killer.
How someone goes from being suspected of killing their girlfriend – despite no proof – to becoming a serial killer is beyond me. And this accusation comes from an FBI agent. I was shocked!
From anger to hope
As you watch American Nightmare, you will undoubtedly be confused and wonder as well. Do you believe him? How about believing her? Whatever anyone watching this documentary might believe (or not), the police ought to be working with facts and evidence.
They do not! They don’t deal with either. At all.
Having already – ironically – created a narrative in their minds where first Aaron, then Denise, are the guilty parties, they do not need evidence. Labeling these two as not victims, but suspects, without any shred of proof is wild.
One exception, which offers some hope, is Detective Misty Carausu of the Dublin Police Department in California. She is the true hero of this story! So are her colleagues in many ways, as they also investigated rather than just assumed.
Detective Misty Carausu did the legwork, worked with evidence, and cracked a huge case!
Watch American Nightmare on Netflix
The new docuseries comes from documentary filmmakers Felicity Morris and Bernadette Higgins. The two filmmakers also gave us The Tinder Swindler which is another documentary you should check out.
The story is told by incorporating interrogation footage and new interviews with the key figures from the story. Over three episodes, the docuseries shines a light on the consequences of rushing to judgment – especially when it’s from the police!
Before making these two docuseries, Felicity Morris also produced Dont F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer which is an iconic documentary. Especially because it’s a perfect example of the so-called “Internet sleuths” cracking a case!
American Nightmare has a touch of the same except for this true crime, the case was cracked by a detective. Not the one working on the case of Denise’s kidnapping, but Detective Misty Carausu of the Dublin Police Department in California.
We need more of her kind. That’s what I learned from this Netflix series!
AMERICAN NIGHTMARE will be released globally on Netflix on January 17, 2024.
After a harrowing home invasion and kidnapping in 2015, a couple is accused of staging the ordeal when the woman reappears in this true-crime docuseries.