(Credit: Netflix)

Films

The 'most disturbing' Netflix film traumatising audiences

The real crime drama Cleveland Abduction has made an impression, much of it for reasons that you might not expect. Viewers here in Britain have pooled their thoughts together to unleash a withering sigh that permeates through the sky to create one of the most interesting communes of thought read on social media in recent times. Based on the actual Ariel Castro kidnappings, the drama acts as an adaptation of sorts of the probing Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed by Michelle Knight.

Originally packaged as a made-for-TV movie in 2015, Cleveland Abduction garnered a wider audience when it was released via Netflix, where audiences could veer in and out of the series, giving them a chance to soak in the nuances of the show. Where it transpired from that point was up to the viewers, many of them writing on social media to convey their absolute shock at the themes the show held. 

This sense of shock stemmed from the fact that these events actually occurred in real life, which may have made it more uncomfortable for viewers to let the film wash over them.

Viewers took to social media in an effort to warn potential audience members of the content in question. “Cleveland Abduction is one of the most disturbing things I’ve ever watched,” wrote one viewer. “There’s some sick freaks in this world.” Another had a similar guttural reaction to the feature:  “Watching Cleveland Abduction and I’m currently deeply disturbed.” The reactions all point to the same thing, that Netflix had produced a show that was deeply disturbing on a number of levels. 

Another wrote, “But the thought of it actually being a true story disgusted me so much I can’t even imagine how traumatising it must have been for those girls…” Indeed, crimes are more horrific when you realise that they actually occurred. Viewers can enjoy Hannibal Lecter and his predilection for ears, because he is fictitious, but when the events genuinely happened, it’s harder to distance from the backdrop in an effort to enjoy the finished product. 

Interestingly, the online furore caused many in the United Kingdom to log into Netflix, only to find that this infamous feature wasn’t actually on the platform: It carried on the old adage that there truly is no such thing as bad publicity, but there is such a thing as a social community, meaning that there is gravitas in numbers. One of the actors in question, Taryn Manning, admitted to Marie Claire that she had reservations about the film, and didn’t take the film on lightly. Indeed, the synopsis is eerily reminiscent of Detainment, an Irish short feature that detailed the murder of James Bulger in 1993.

The film, Detainment, starred two child actors who played the killers, and were rewarded with critical acclaim. Detainment was nominated for short film at the Academy Awards, but the picture upset many people who remembered the killings, including Bulger’s mother. Murder sells, but it’s hard to enjoy when it’s real.