With most true crime series, viewers are being spun a tale from a particular point-of-view. But EPIX’s four-part “Fall River” (debuts Sunday at 10pm) gives armchair detectives a more holistic approach.
The series dives into the brutal murders of three women in Falls River, Massachusetts, allegedly by a satanic cult practicing human sacrifice. As the story progresses, it raises questions over whether the murders were indeed solved.
The first episode is told from the police perspective. Episode 2 is through the eyes of alleged cult leader Carl Drew, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murders. Episode 3 is told from the view of Robin Murphy, who was 17 at the time of the slayings and convicted for assisting with them.
“Every episode, you get the same facts from a different point of view, and it completely changes your mind,” explains exec producer and director James Buddy Day. “You’re going on this roller coaster and every time you get to the bottom, even though it’s the same ride, your whole opinion has shifted.”
Day sees that as a metaphor for the criminal justice system in America. “It’s not about finding the truth… It’s this purposefully adversarial system designed to come to a conclusion, regardless of how true that conclusion is,” he said. “It basically weighs perspective and then decides whose perspective is going to kind of be treated as gospel.”
The murders took place during the height of the satanic panic of the ’80s and ’90s. It’s hard not to draw parallels to the recent rise of QAnon, with its belief that a cabal of Satan-worshiping, cannibalistic pedophiles run a global child sex trafficking ring.
“That is that what’s so interesting about the satanic panic—it’s this idea of vilifying people you disagree with and calling them evil and demonic and saying that your argument is righteous,” Day said. “I spent years looking at clips from the satanic panic, and you would see people giving speeches and protesting and they’re literally saying the same thing as QAnon… Believing that there are secret, satanic cults that are drinking the blood of children is an American pastime at this point.”