Just a week after the six-part series Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami broke its way into the Top 10 streaming charts, Netflix has landed another true crime hit. The streamer’s original documentary Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes, which offers a new look into the life and crimes of the self-proclaimed “murderer of the century,” is currently making waves on more than just social media as it begins to makes its way to the top of the Netflix streaming lists.
Debuting on the streaming library on Wednesday, Aug. 18, the chilling 90-minute film from director Michael Harte explores the life and crimes of notorious British serial killer Dennis Nilsen. Over a five-year period, Nilsen picked up vulnerable young men, lured them back to his home and strangled them, before disposing of their bodies under the floorboards. In 1983, he confessed to killing 15 people. As true crime lovers, writers, and journalists continue to speculate over his motive, Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes for the first time offers up Nilsen’s own viewpoint. With access to 250 hours’ worth of tapes recorded from Nilsen’s prison cell, the documentary features Nilsen narrating his life “from a young boy growing up in a quiet Scottish fishing village to a cold-blooded murderer prowling the streets of London.”
Given that Netflix has become a go-to resource for true crime content, it came as little surprise when Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes immediately made its way onto Netflix’s Top 10 charts upon its debut. The film currently sits in the No. 6 spot among all movies on the streaming platform, coming ahead of Walk of Shame, Home, Major Payne, and Beckett. The top half of the movies chart is made up of The Kissing Booth 3, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, Vivo, The Loud House Movie, and Jason Momoa’s latest film Sweet Girl, which claims the No. 1 spot. The documentary, however, has not broken into the Top 10 overall list, which is being dominated by Sweet Girl, The Loud House Movie, and Manifest in the top three spots.
As with other true crime hits, Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes has generated plenty of commentary online as people sit down and watch it. One person said the documentary is “wild,” with another person writing, “as far as serial killer documentaries go, it’s pretty good.” Somebody else applauded the film for doing “a lot with the audio,” adding that “the role homophobia played was interesting.”
However, with as much praise as the film has drawn, it has also spurred some criticism. After viewing the film, one person tweeted that while it “is well made and chilling,” they have never “seen a more superficial retelling of real events.” That person said the film is “missing so much vital info” and “glorifies Nilsen a touch too much with the tapes… It’s compelling viewing but doesn’t deserve to be I guess.” Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes is available for streaming on Netflix.