What The Anthrax Attacks is all about without ruining the show
A well-documented case anyone who was around in 2001 will remember, The Anthrax Attacks is the story of the post-9/11 mailings of anthrax to both prominent people and regular citizens. The documentary uses some good reenactments to tell the story of the man, Bruce Ivins, believed to be behind the terrorism as well as news footage and interviews with those involved or directly affected.
Mail is something we all touch each day. It’s one of the safest things, other than a late payment notice, we can interact with. That all changed with the anthrax mailings. This documentary tells the years-long search for who was the mastermind behind them.
Did you know anything about The Anthrax Attacks story before watching?
Having lived through it and being a resident of New Jersey, I was very familiar with the story. I knew more details about it from the either the True Crime All The Time or Criminology podcast episode. Honestly, I don’t remember which it was. This is a story I followed closely long before I knew true crime was an actual genre.
Will The Anthrax Attacks make people feel uncomfortable?
The killings in this case are a little different from some of the other typical murders in true crime documentaries. Some of the descriptions of how people are killed with anthrax could be a little harsh. Aside from that, it’s not bloody or uncomfortable from the point of gore. It is, however, a little terrifying to see something happen so randomly.
We can put locks on our doors to keep out evil. The unknown within an envelope is something you never expect to kill you.
What was good about The Anthrax Attacks?
Reenactments can make or break some documentaries. Those of us who grew up watching Unsolved Mysteries might get some delight out of the bad ones. The Anthrax Attacks uses good acting. In fact, it felt almost like an episode of Breaking Bad at times. The similarities between Bruce Ivins and Walter White were too strong to ignore.
A little bit of personal bias toward this case, I really enjoyed learning more about Ivins. This was the first major crime I was old enough to understand because it affected everyone. The post office where Ivins mailed some of the anthrax was local to me, too. Given this factor, it had me interested before ever watching. It would have had to have been brutally bad for me to lose interest.
The Anthrax Attacks is only one film rather than a series. I would have liked to see more, but they seemed to cover as much as they could and needed to. Instead, I’ll settle for these filmmakers covering a different story.
What could have made The Anthrax Attacks better?
I wanted more. I would have settled for a two-parter with some filler. We don’t learn enough about Ivins as a person other than his strange quirks. Perhaps because his family wished to not be involved, we don’t even learn much about them at all.
The results of the case also give this documentary an issue. We don’t get a full conclusion. We are made to accept that Ivins acted alone. The documentary presents a strong case but others were also under the microscope of being the ones who mailed the letters. Maybe they got it wrong.
Is The Anthrax Attacks worth watching?
Yes, definitely. For anyone who grew up as a teenager around 9/11, it might hit you a little differently. That was a life-changing moment for all of us and the anthrax attacks shortly after served as another reminder of how terrible the world could be. Even if you didn’t receive any mail that went through the affected facilities, you’ll remember this case well and recall the fear during the time.
Overall Rating: 9 out of 10
The Anthrax Attacks won’t go down as one of the greatest true crime documentaries of all-time. It doesn’t have much rewatch value either. Nonetheless, the way the filmmakers tackled this story was well-done. I’m eager to see them do something similar with another high-profile case without enough documentary coverage.
Interested in watching The Anthrax Attacks or learning more about the case? Below you will find affiliate links to the series as well as other information about this case. By using this links, I may receive a small commission of any purchase you may make.
Watch The Anthrax Attacks on Netflix
Recounting the Anthrax Attacks by R. Scott Decker
Analyzing the Anthrax Attacks: The First 3 Years by Edward G. Lake
If you have a series or film you want to know my opinion on, please leave a comment below. I may have already written about it. I can save you some time from watching a dud.