Considering how many involve law enforcement corruption, true crime stories suggest that without accountability cops can’t be trusted to behave properly in obtaining confessions, charging individuals, or admitting to their mistakes regarding unjust convictions. The Night Caller is both a sprawling serial-killer mystery and a saga about legal exoneration. Yet by its conclusion, it primarily proves to be another infuriating non-fiction portrait of police malfeasance and—worse still—unwillingness to own up to, and correct, their own wrongdoing.
Writer/director Thomas Meadmore’s four-part Sundance Now docuseries (premiering Jan. 19) takes place in the Western Suburbs of Perth, Australia, an affluent enclave that, in the ‘50s and ‘60s, offered residents a comfortable, carefree and safe life in which they were free to leave their doors and windows unlocked and to sleep on their verandas during the hot summer months. Those good times came to a crashing halt, however, in 1959, with the brutal murder of single mother Pnina Berkman in her bedroom. When her boyfriend Fotis Fountas promptly fled the country for his native Greece, authorities assumed he was the culprit. Nine months later, though, another similar slaying took place in Perth: that of 22-year-old chocolate empire heiress Jillian Brewer, who was savagely slain in her bed with a tomahawk and a pair of scissors.