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Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer

Pulp documentarian Nick Broomfield's English twit persona served him well in his 1992 docu "Aileen Wuoronos: The Selling of a Serial Killer." Revisiting the scene of the crime 12 years later, Broomfield and co-director Joan Churchill here focus more on Aileen herself, and Bloomfield's obtrusiveness pales beside the rage of the seven-time killer.

Pulp documentarian Nick Broomfield’s English twit persona served him well in his 1992 docu “Aileen Wuoronos: The Selling of a Serial Killer,” as everybody scrambled to turn the sensationalistic prostitute/murderess into a commodity. Revisiting the scene of the crime in response to a subpoena 12 years later, Broomfield and co-director Joan Churchill here focus more on Aileen herself, and this time around, Bloomfield’s obtrusiveness pales beside the bewildered rage of the seven-time killer, who changes her story hourly. Less focused and cogent than “Selling,” docu will probably find a niche on cable.

As Wuoronos’ case is appealed in the courts, the filmmakers zero in on pointedly grotesque background details, from clips of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush piously endorsing the death penalty to conversations with Wuoronos’ classmates back in her Michigan hometown, telling of her abusive childhood and the two years she subsisted unprotected in the woods. But it’s the interviews with Aileen herself that steal the show as she insists her mind is being controlled by radio waves — her Mad Hatter personality beyond the scope of Broomfield’s disingenuous tone to interpret.

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer


Production: A Lafayette Films production for Channel Four. Produced by Jo Human. Directed by Nick Broomfield, Joan Churchill.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Churchill; editor, Claire Ferguson; music, Rob Lane.Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (competing), May 1, 2003. Running time: 89 MIN.

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