The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 review – a horrifying tale

August 31, 2022
Romey Norton 1
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
3.5

Summary

This documentary film has an interesting topic, intense acting, and interviews. While this happened over 20 years ago, it ignites a gut-wrenching familiarity that left me feeling sad and uneasy. 

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3.5

Summary

This documentary film has an interesting topic, intense acting, and interviews. While this happened over 20 years ago, it ignites a gut-wrenching familiarity that left me feeling sad and uneasy. 

Netflix documentary The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 will be released on the streaming service on September 9, 2022.

From Oscar-nominated director Dan Krauss (Extremis, The Kill Team) and BBC Studios comes the incredible true story of the 2001 anthrax attacks on the United States in the days following 9/11. This documentary follows the in-depth and incredible forensic investigation that followed, finally closing the case in 2010. Streaming on Netflix, The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11 has a runtime of 102 minutes and is a documentary you need to add to your watchlist. 

One week after 9/11, a series of letters containing anthrax caused five deaths and at least seventeen people fell seriously ill, and more can be said to have been affected. This is one of the most complex investigations in the history of the FBI and American law enforcement. After letters containing anthrax spores were sent to news outlets and to Democratic senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy, panic followed as many feared it was a follow-up to the September 11 bombings but we quickly learn that the Anthrax attack must have come from someone in the United States, as the certain strain used is in a US laboratory. Now the hunt begins.

After the 2020 pandemic, there are multiple conspiracy theories going around as to how Covid-19 was created, and how it was able to spread so wide across the world, and causing the questions, was this chemical warfare or a chance for drug corporations to make money? There is a similar feel to this documentary. It has a scientific insight into how anthrax poisoning was a biological attack, which can certainly spark interest and fear in its viewers. All I can hear and see in this documentary is fear; vaccines, hazmat suits, terrorists, pandemic, fear, cover-ups, obsession, and what does this make you think of — the past two years of our lives. And the main outcome is that the people in charge should have done better. Do we really learn from the past?

Through interviews, scripted reenactments, and footage from 2001, we get to hear the heartbreaking stories from investigators, survivors and friends and families of the infected and their personal thoughts, opinions and honest feelings on the events. 

Clark Gregg stars as Dr. Bruce Ivins, which is a wonderful addition to this documentary. HIs acting skills are second to none, brilliant, and he really brings the words of Dr. Ivins to life. It’s good to note that all scripted scenes are based on true FBI field notes. These reconstructed scenes give this documentary a feature film focus and quality, very much like the series Chernobyl. 

After the most in depth investigation, this investigation became a nightmare — and they played the blame game, until eventually the authorities found evidence potentially tracing the anthrax to Dr. Ivin’s lab. Then one of the main conclusions/opinions is that Dr. Ivins sent the letters filled with Antrax as he feared his life’s research was coming to an end. Of course, after these, attacks money and notoriety went into him and his research. Eventually, Dr. Ivins then committed suicide. Is this because he was pursued aggressively by the FBI or because he was the perpetrator and was scared of going to prison? This is a question I’ll let you answer once you’ve watched and made your own conclusions. 

Overall I very much enjoyed this documentary film. A conversation starter, and the subject matter made me think about recent events and our future with the war on terror. The political pressure to solve this and lack of evidence does make me question the conclusion, and once I finished this documentary I felt sorry for everyone involved, including Dr. Ivins, and I can’t help question, what will it be next?

What did you think of the Netflix documentary The Anthrax Attacks: In the Shadow of 9/11? Comment below.

You can watch this documentary with a subscription to Netflix.