What Evil Genius is all about without ruining the show
Back before I knew how much I enjoyed true crime documentaries, I heard on a sports radio show of all places, a recommendation for a Netflix series called Evil Genius. I took the recommendation to heart and watched what became one of my early favorites in the genre.
Evil Genius takes place in Erie, Pennsylvania. A pizza delivery man named Brian Wells has robbed a bank. There’s a catch. He has a bomb strapped to him. Here’s an even bigger catch. The bomb is on him against his will.
What we learn in Evil Genius is how this came to be. Was the robber in on the scheme or a patsy in a more evil plan? There are several suspects who were likely the shot callers in this mission. However, exactly who the genius beyond it is never fully clear. This crime may have, in fact, been done out of love.
Did you know anything about the Evil Genius story before watching?
Other than the plot summary on the sports radio show, this was a news story I didn’t know. In fact, it’s not one I have seen covered anywhere else. Through all of the docuseries I have watched where they often cover things like the McStay Family Disappearance/Murders or the Long Island Serial Killer, none have ever touched on this crime. Maybe it’s because so much of it remains a mystery.
Will Evil Genius make people feel uncomfortable?
Although we see a man die on screen, the smoke covers up the gore. This true crime documentary hurts more because we witness what could be an innocent person lose their life. It’s actually quite enraging at times but not uncomfortable because of the gore, violence, or anything else that makes us squirm.
What was good about Evil Genius?
A good true crime documentary will have layers. Evil Genius certainly does. The pizza delivery man robbing the bank is only a small part of the full story. There is, as the title suggests, a brain at work behind the scenes trying to cover up multiple crimes.
Much of what Evil Genius does is try to speculate about exactly what happened and why it did. It’s actually great content for a scripted film. It’s kind of surprising no one has done it yet although there is a comedy called 30 Minutes or Less which seems to be inspired by it.
Somewhat quietly, Evil Genius is a conspiracy theorist’s dream true crime documentary. We know many of the people involved in this robbery. What we don’t fully know is exactly who had which role and whether or not Wells was a conspirator. It takes a prostitute to clear up some of the information. This still isn’t as wild as Tiger King. It can be quietly close at times.
What could have made Evil Genius better?
The series is in four parts. They cover everything other than clarifying the unknown. Not much more could be done other than raise the dead.
We have some colorful characters in this one. Marge Diehl-Armstrong will give you flashbacks to Mama Fratelli from The Goonies. Bill Rothstein seems like the last person you might ever want to cross. He felt intimidating even without seeing a single interview with him.
Evil Genius could have been told in a multitude of ways. They go with the safest route and play it down the middle. Darker or lighter wouldn’t have made it any better. The documentary is as good as it can get.
Is Evil Genius worth watching?
Definitely. I wasn’t a self-proclaimed true crime fan when I first watched this and yet the story has stuck with me for years. It’s such a unique crime that even features a scavenger hunt. Sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever know the full truth of what happened.
Overall Score: 10 out of 10
This is a bingeable true crime series you can get through in a weekend. Have a pizza with it if you really want to get into the story.
Interested in watching Evil Genius 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.
Mania and Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong: Inside the Mind of a Female Serial Killer by Jerry Clark
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.
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