Victim/Suspect Documentary Review, Bad Film with a Meaningful Message

Let’s do this review of the Netflix documentary Victim/Suspect a little differently and not just because it has a slash through the title. I’m giving it away in the title; this was not a particularly good film.

Yes, it was better than Old-Growth Murder which got a 1 out of 10 from me. I’m going to do things in reverse and reveal the score immediately for this one.

Overall Score: 4 out of 10

Not too bad. Victim/Suspect is a nicely made documentary with a meaningful message. Trying to find my number one reason for losing interest in it quickly it’s how involved Rae de Leon gets. She’s the journalist who ends up making this a documentary as much about her journalism career as the crimes covered in it.

Victim/Suspect preaches to the choir and doesn’t offer any solutions to a dangerous problem

The documentary is about victims of rape who are falsley accused of making up the accusations. While this does happen, many women have been sentenced to time behind bars for being called liars when they did in fact suffer through a sexual assault. We meet several different victims who later became suspects due in part to the police tactic of using a “ruse.”

For example, an investigator will say they have footage of something that goes against the girl’s story. The footage doesn’t exist. After hours of interrogation, a false confession is made.

There is a wonderful message to get out of this film. We know false confessions are a big part of the true crime documentary world. It’s what made something like Making A Murderer so popular. Even Paradise Lost, through all of the twists, begins with a confession that is later recanted.

Victim/Suspect is a bit all over the place. It’s not episodic and yet it tries to cover several different instances of women being assaulted and then accused by police of making up the whole story. It’s hard to follow. And with multiple instead of the “host” of the film, de Leon, popping up and talking about her journalism career, we’re led in a whole bunch of different directions.

My biggest takeaway from Victim/Suspect is that this is an ongoing problem we need to fix. The problem is this documentary doesn’t really offer any solution other than to stop doing it.

Was the mission of this film to expose corrupt police and their tactics? If so, it seemed like they took a long route to get there. Perhaps because I agree with the justice they were trying to get for the innocent girls I found this one to be a “preach to the choir” type of film. By this I mean there was no debating the truth or falseness of what happened.

There is no “whodunnit” or even a “who’s telling the truth” element in this documentary. Way too much content is here in a short period of time. We hardly even get to know more about the girl who took her own life after an assault the police deemed was a lie on her behalf.

Victim/Suspect needed to focus on one case or include several episodes to look at the bigger picture. And for goodness sake, we didn’t need to see de Leon reporting for the local news when she was younger. Get to the meat of your story when you have such limited time. Victim/Suspect is not something I can recommend in good faith. There’s nothing wrong with the way it looks, the purpose, or the intentions. The issue is bad storytelling that overshadows what the whole meaning of the film was supposed to be about.

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