This is a series I highly recommend you watch – like many documentaries it has moments that drag, but overall, this is exciting and fascinating and will have you talking about it for weeks after.
This review of the Netflix documentary Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan does not contain spoilers.
Netflix documentary Monsters Inside: The 24 Faces of Billy Milligan explores the case of Billy Milligan, who was arrested in 1977 for the robbery, kidnap, and rapes of three women on the Ohio State University campus.
This was a first-of-its-kind, as whilst there is plenty of evidence to suggest he had committed the crimes, Billy claimed to not have any memories of the assaults; he was clueless. Billy appeared to exhibit personality traits that would change, moment to moment and this resulted in a team of psychiatrists diagnosing him as having dissociative identity disorder. His lawyers pleaded insanity, claiming that two out of his 24 personalities committed the crimes without Mulligan knowing.
This four-part documentary follows his journey. From claims of an abusive childhood to a planned film project where James Cameron would have directed the story of his life, that life seems unbelievable.
This story is incredibly wild, there is a lot going on, and it will have opinions and emotions running high — it definitely challenges you and your morals. As documentaries go this is very standard formatting; we’re given interviews from friends, family, victims, police, psychologists, there is old footage, and investigative and medical information. There is a lot of medical talk, and they go into depth about this disorder, so be prepared to listen and be fed information.
There is a lot of use of flashing lights and grainy camera footage, which can be annoying and distracting but I suppose it’s meant to create a sense of chaos – maybe to reflect what goes on in Billy’s head, however, it was over the top. The way in which the interviewees are placed is also awkward and random. Large rooms, both messy, derelict, and then clean and formal. Some are in the hallways. It felt as if they were trying to be visually creative and it wasn’t needed. It distracted me from what everyone had to say.
Without giving too many spoilers, the whole series is questioning if he really had this disorder. A mixture between people who believe he did and people who believe he didn’t. You can come to your own conclusion as to what you believe. Milligan had been in juvenile prison and prison before he committed these crimes. He had attempted suicide. There is no doubt he is not a typical, average, level-headed, mentally stable person, so what would you do?
Mulligan was acquitted and spent a decade in mental hospitals and was released in 1988, then discharged from the Ohio mental health system and Ohio courts in 1991. He lived in California as of 1996 and this is where he was supposedly making a short film. He eventually died in a nursing home in Columbus, Ohio in 2014.
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