So, this should go without saying since this is a review, but there are spoilers in this article. So either power through and read it, or spend three hours watching this and come back.
What drives a world-class athlete to abandon the comfort and security of professional sports to engage in the world of violent crime? How does a promising kid from the suburbs of Connecticut get caught up in multiple murder investigations and later one conviction?
Netflix continues to do the true crime genre justice in both storytelling and the stories it chooses to tell. Killer Inside is the perfect mix of true crime and athletics to keep those interested in the football aspect of the story and those who are seeking a high-profile true crime show to binge watch following Don’t Fuck With Cats.
As someone obsessed with sports who also shies away from the true crime stories I feel I know, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about watching the documentary. I hate knowing true story endings so much I didn’t watch Titanic until 2013. I have never seen Lincoln. I get it, the boat sinks, he gets shot at the theater, and Aaron Hernandez was convicted of killing a guy. There’s no suspense there, but I had just watched the cats documentary and loved their other true crime work so we gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
Netflix stays true to their title as the documentary revolves around the former New England Patriots tight end state of mind and what may have influenced his decision-making across his alleged activities throughout his time in Florida and in the NFL.
The story begins with Aaron in his hometown in Connecticut and whether or not he had a homosexual relationship with the quarterback of his high school football team. Dennis SanSoucie, claims to have had a relationship with Hernandez while at Bishop Central High School where they both starred on the gridiron. The question of Hernandez’s sexuality is addressed throughout the three episodes.
During this time we are also introduced to Aaron’s father, who while revered by the community, is portrayed as old fashioned in his beliefs and would have likely frowned upon Aaron’s sexuality. Aaron following a professional career in a hyper-masculine field of professional football, which has only seen one openly gay player, and his inability to feel like he can be true to his sexuality is portrayed as a potential reason as why he may have committed the heinous acts that led him to his prison sentence.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez, follows this method throughout the possible theories as to why Hernandez acted the way he did. These other possibilities are not limited too his brain and whether or not football had an effect on his mental state, and whether or not Hernandez felt he would never face consequences for his actions following a taste of that life in Florida while playing college football.
The documentary knows that we will never know what truly led to Hernandez’s downfall and what ended up being the reason he killed Odin Lloyd, and portrays each possible theme all while tying everything together throughout the story.
They take us through Hernandez’s time in Florida where he is admitted to a bar despite being underage, and when was confronted by the owner to pay his own tab, he struck the owner and shattered his ear drum. Hernandez paid no price for the attack and continued to shine on the football field as the Gators won the National Championship during his tenure. He also failed a few drug tests according to documents at the NFL combine which was not revealed during the collegiate season.
The end of the third episode relies on a world renown doctor studying Hernandez’s brain to see if CTE and a life of head-on collisions on the football field may have led to his emotional instability and caused him to at more frequently out of anger. At no point, does the documentary lay the entirety of the murder at the feet of this suggestion. Much like not facing consequences for smaller aggressive actions, and his rumored sexual orientation, CTE is not solely blamed, but is presented as a potential cause of his actions.
The most glaring omission to the documentary is that Aaron Hernandez played on the undefeated New England Patriots season during the season after which he is alleged to have been involved in a double homicide. Which shows his callousness and how unfeeling he may have been feeling following the alleged actions.
Overall, this documentary is worth the watch for those interested in true crime and the football fans just looking for something more on the subject. The story itself is somehow even crazier than you may have remembered it. With first-hand sources, prison recordings, and media interviewers telling the story, you feel as though you are getting an incredibly detailed and thorough accounting of the events.
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez will surely be discussed at your Super Bowl party, and we cannot recommend it enough.