Netflix's new true crime series investigates the heart of the satanic panic

'The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness' explores the claims that the notorious serial killer David Berkowitz did not act alone.

by Roisin Lanigan
|
Apr 28 2021, 2:03pm

Imagery via Netflix

True crime junkies rejoice! Netflix is about to bless us with another bingeable docuseries about the Wikipedia serial killer rabbit hole that is the notorious Sons of Sam case. Since February’s release of Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel, about the mysterious disappearance of Elisa Lam, things have been relatively quiet on the true crime front at the streamer. That’s all set to change next week though, with the release of The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, which delves into the crimes of infamous serial killer David Berkowitz.

The four part series tells the story of Berkowitz’s crime spree as he roamed the streets of New York for over a year, and questions whether, over 40 years later, the case is truly solved. It draws heavily on the testimony of journalist Maury Terry, to whom the case became a lifelong obsession. Terry didn’t believe that Berkowitz was actually to blame for the killing spree he was charged with in the seventies, and instead put the blame on Satanists working behind the scenes.


When he was finally caught by police in 1976, after the biggest manhunt in US crime history — in which Berkowitz even sent letters to the authorities mocking them for being unable to apprehend him — the Brooklynite confessed to eight separate shooting attacks across the city. So far, so straightforward, right? Not so much.

Berkowitz, who also called himself the “Son of Sam”, continued to fascinate and horrify the world after his arrest, when he claimed to be a member of a violent, murderous Satanic cult. The killer, now 67 years old and still serving a life sentence at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York, claimed that he only carried out the crimes because they were orchestrated as ritualistic murders by the cult. 

It’s that claim which The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness delves into. Not so much a whodunnit than a whydunnit, the docuseries explores the police’s supposed incompetence in matching evidence to Berkowitz’s crime, and points attention to some dodgy happenings in the investigation — from disappearing suspects to mismatched photofits. 

“With Berkowitz in prison,” the newly released trailer posits, “who’s still out there?”

Much to think about! Check out the trailer below ahead of the series dropping on 5 May. Well look, you still have some time to kill while the pubs are all booked up for the next twelve weeks, right?


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