I checked my watch. 3:3oAM.
Around me, three friends with faces all fixated on the TV, either with mouths slightly agape or brows furrowed in morbid fascination. We’re three episodes deep in a four-part true crime documentary that innocently started at midnight as a plan to catch just the first episode. Earlier that evening I’d been gushing about how Netflix’s latest hit series, Evil Genius, was a binge-worthy addition to their running list of shows, so much so, and in such convincing fashion, that it stoked enough intrigue in my friends to delve into it that very night.
This very scenario is just a sample-size of the level interest and fervor Evil Genius has incited thus far after releasing on the streaming giant earlier this month. And who can blame the masses for being gripped by this diabolical tale of a pizza delivery man, Brian Wells, who robbed a local bank with a bomb collared around his neck. What’s more, he was equipped with a cane fashioned into an actual working gun and then instructed to go on wild goose chase filled with different stops and tasks he had to complete in time or else the bomb would discharge.
But Wells would never get as far as completing this scavenger hunt. Moments after stepping out of the bank after committing the robbery, he was stopped by local police. With guns drawn on a then seated Wells, Eerie, Pennsylvania law enforcement were now faced with the challenge of how to tackle a scenario seemingly pulled straight from the Saw movie franchise. They didn’t have too much time to think, however, as the case now became a murder mystery the very moment the bomb suddenly detonated, killing Wells instantly. The footage of his death, though disquieting and horrific, is the initial grip on the audience, dropping jaws and captivating them with a vice-like hold that’s painstakingly applied by the wrought storytelling of Evil Genius’ director, Trey Borzillieri.
And that’s not even the weirdest part of the story.
What follows is a serpentine tale that highlights a rogue’s gallery of characters that are equally disturbed and cunning in their own right, making for plausible suspects for the viewer to determine who of which — or perhaps all — are behind the wild “Pizza Bomber” case. In fact, Wells is considered as a possible suspect, too, given that he displayed remarkable calm in the face of such a scenario, even plucking a lollipop from the bank counter during the robbery and swinging his cane gun like Charlie Chaplin as he walked out the joint.
Pair all of that with the essentials of a compelling true crime case — plot twists and curve balls galore, law enforcement botches — and you have a shocking program that makes for necessary viewing. The fact that it’s only four episodes long should add extra seasoning to the already palatable plot, making for a quick and fascinating binge.