Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City (2003) chronicled the monstrous deeds of H.H. Holmes, a deranged serial killer who preyed on unsuspecting women, many of whom were lured to Chicago during the World's Fair in 1893. This innovative, creepy documentary sheds new light on the dark story, relying on unusual cinematic touches to convey uneasiness.

Shadowy black-and-white reenactments, nightmarishly flickering, almost seem like they were plucked from a vintage horror film. Voice-over narration sounds sophisticated yet menacing. Two Holmes experts discuss the madman's childhood, obsession with cadavers, and eventual capture.

The presentation is not explicitly gory except for one reenactment depicting the dismemberment of an obviously fake body. Extras include outtakes and filmmaker commentary.

True crime enthusiasts will relish this disturbingly clever program.

Volume 101, Number 6
November 15, 2004