If you have a Netflix account and a social media presence, chances are you’ve watched Making A Murderer, you’ve discussed Making A Murderer … and you’ve been terrified by Making A Murderer. Obviously the scariest thing in the series (and also one of the least-discussed, somehow) is THE ACTUAL, TERRIBLE MURDER OF 25-YEAR OLD TERESA HALBACH. Caps lock totally necessary because it was awful. But the horror doesn’t end there – we were duly frightened by the following:
Winter in Wisconsin
I live in one of the snowiest cities in America (100 inches/average). We get 12 inches of lake effect snow and school isn’t even cancelled the next day. The average high temperature last February was 12 degrees Fahrenheit. And I am a total wimp compared to the hardy Wisconsinites in this series. Didn’t it feel like every exterior shot, no matter what time it took place, was crammed with piles of snow everywhere? But nobody complained or even looked cold? Manitowoc County is like the North Pole except that it’s a workshop for unspeakable violence and judicial corruption instead of toys.
Scare Scale: A White-Knuckle Drive On An Icy Expressway – 2/10
The Land That Time Forgot
Based on the hair and wardrobe of the various townspeople, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Making A Murderer was filmed in 1986 or 1998, but it was actually well into the 2000s. I know plenty of small-town residents, rural folks, and Midwesterners who look completely normal, so the frozen-in-time aesthetic really added to the feeling that there was something just off about every single one of these people.
Scare Scale: The moment when Rip Van Winkle awakes – 3/10
The Straight-From-Deliverance Interior Design
Even if I didn’t know that a person may have been raped and murdered in Steven Avery’s home, I’d consider it a house of horrors. The whole Avery slum is like a reverse Kennedy compound (only similarity: some possible murder cover-ups). I grew up in an inner city neighborhood and I can safely say that a WHOLE lot of poor people manage not to decorate like the subjects of Making A Murderer.
Scare Scale: Walking Into Your Home Post-Trading Spaces c. 2003 And Finding That One Of The BAD Designers Did It- 4/10
Two Nice Lesbians In Possible Peril
The filmmakers behind Making A Murderer, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, were a very young, chill lesbian couple from Columbia University when this project began. Although there are tons of intelligent, free-thinking people in the rural northern Midwest, the particular crowd that was featured in this documentary seemed… um… not that way. Not to mention, Ricciardi and Demos probably didn’t exactly blend into the Land That Time Forgot. They never mentioned being made to feel at all uncomfortable, but I still found myself wanting to call in a welfare check when I realized they were alone with some of those people (ahem… Steven’s terrifying mother).
Scare Scale: That Time When TLC Showed Michelle Duggar’s Lesbian Sister & I Imagined The First Time She Met Jim-Bob – 5/10
In one of the early episodes, townspeople were interviewed at a local bar. It looked like everyone in the county was there downing domestic draft beer and shooting pool – and then we realized it was the middle of the afternoon. Maybe there was a game on or something? There’s nothing exactly WRONG with going to the bar in the daytime, but it looked distinctly like that’s what some people were doing all day, every day.
Scare Scale: Realizing That You Get Hungover After Two Drinks Now That You’re Old – 3/10
Small rural towns in general
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a suburb of the third most populated city in New York, or have an attraction to big cities (typing this to you from LA), but areas with nothing around except 200 people who know your shit scares me. Unless it’s Stars Hollow. But IRL, I couldn’t handle it. I’ve taken a cross country road trip which included driving through pretty much all of Texas and Oklahoma, and it was those states that I feared the most (for other reasons too we can get into later). It’s just all land, nothing around. What if you need medical attention ASAP? Where’s the nearest hospital? Is it even a good one (DR. DEREK SHEPARD)?? If someone kills you, will anyone be able to hear your screams? If you sleep with the local diner owner who’s been pining for you for years and you accidentally go down to the open diner sans pants and clearly sexed from the night before, will the gossip ever stop about your relationship? Nope. Not for me.
Scare Scale: Getting Hit By A Deer On The Way To An Exam At Chilton – 7/10
In the 1985 rape case, Penny Beernsten said her assailant was wearing white underwear during the attack. However, Steven Avery’s post-conviction lawyer argued that Steven doesn’t own any underwear – white or otherwise. So like, never? It’s so cold in Wisconsin! Although he spends most of his time indoors, I’m assuming.
Scare Scale: Realizing that your underwear lines were visible all day – 6/10
Casual front yard fire pits
Listen, I love a good bonfire but I don’t call my friends over to casually burn an old cabinet and a van seat in the afternoon. I especially didn’t do that when I was 16. I mean, how even are you supposed to make s’mores? But on the real, if you had a neighbor that was burning furniture in his front yard in the middle of the day, you’d think something was up right? I guess this wouldn’t be weird in rural Wisconsin, so ok, maybe if you’re in a populated suburb or a big city – THIS WOULD BE SCARY.
Scare Scale: A Manitowoc-Sized Hole In The Ozone Layer – 6/10
The fact this rap exists
“Kid’s just innocent / was only 16, tryna set him free / He’s not guilty, there’s no way in hell / Corruption made him fall, lose it all .”
Naturally, Brendan’s half-brother made a rap about his innocence.
Scare Scale: White Rappers – 7/10
Police sketch artist/Chief Deputy Sheriff Gene Kusche walked into quite a first day on the job when he took on the case in 1985. He was basically (allegedly) told to draw a sketch of Steven Avery based on a mug shot they had of him from the time he did the thing to the cat. Kusche denied he was told what to draw, despite DNA proving Steven didn’t do it. Anyways, he framed the sketch and hung it up alongside Steve’s actual mug shot. In his words, “I’m just… the pencil. I’m just the pencil.”
Scare Scale: When You’re Walking Past A Mirror And You Don’t Recognize Yourself At First – 8/10
The “International Recording Artist” wasn’t that at all
Not only was he not international, he was also not recording or an artist- he’s a small town guitarist that one time played a NASCAR event and opened for a few country acts – they’ve never played outside the U.S., per TMZ.
Scare Scale: Those Creepy Children Who Performed At The Trump Rally – 6/10
Ken Kratz revealed
The man had both a drug AND sex addiction and has only been sober for five years. Meaning he had this problem during the Avery case??
Scare Scale: When You Get Home And A Door Is Open That Shouldn’t Be And You Don’t Know Whether It’s Better If It Was A Burglar Or A Ghost: 8/10
Everyone’s A Lawyer
I don’t consider myself a legal expert, and I graduated magna cum laude from law school, passed the bar on the first try, and have been working in the legal profession for 4 years. But you know who DO consider themselves legal experts? A whole bunch of people who watched this show and armchair-lawyered it on the internet. I want people to take interest in the justice system, ask questions, and form opinions, but a binge watch isn’t a doctoral degree. If it was I’d be a certified meth-chemist by now.
The only annoying things, actually, were people not understanding that some of the procedural stuff was totally normal and not a big deal, and believing that all necessary information was presented in this series.
Scare Scale: The morning before Day 2 of the New York bar exam, 4/10
Everyone’s Also A Predator?
Okay, not everyone, but way more people than I’m comfortable with (for the record, my comfort level would be 0. Zero people). First there’s Gregory Allen, the person who actually raped Penny Beernsten. Then there’s the person or people who killed Teresa Halbach, whoever that may be. Sit tight, there’s more. Charles Avery, Steven’s brother: charged with sexual assault; domestic violence. Earl Avery, Steven’s other brother: also charged with sexual assault (of his daughters). Scott Tadych, boyfriend of Barb Janda (Steven’s sister/ Brendan’s mom): stalking, domestic violence. Steven Avery: domestic violence. We’re all very fired up about problems in the criminal justice system now, as well we should be, but why isn’t this causing more outrage too?
Scare Scale: A Holiday Weekend-Long Law And Order: SVU Marathon, 9/10
Uncertainty in the justice system
I think most viewers can agree that the outrage of the show lies within the fact there just wasn’t enough evidence to prove neither Brendan or Steven Avery guilty. We are promised fair trials in cases like these, but something just wan’t right with this one. Too many sketchy bits add up to one questionable justice system in Wisconsin. That being said, what’s perhaps the scariest of all is that anyone could arrested (no matter the location), and despite all signs pointing to your innocence, end up behind bars for the rest of your life.