Looking for some new haunts to keep you company through the oncoming winter season? Audiences who prefer their spooks with a side of realism should check out the first trailer for Netflix’s new true crime series, The Innocent Man, which the streaming service released on YouTube Monday morning, Dec. 3. But, keep in mind: As those who’ve taken a peek at the upcoming documentary series’ chilling first-look video already know, this one is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Based on John Grisham’s 2006 nonfiction book of the same name, Netflix’s The Innocent Man chronicles a retrospective investigation into the murders of two women from Ada, Oklahoma, during the early ’80s. "If I wrote The Innocent Man as a novel, folks probably wouldn’t believe it," says Grisham at the start of Netflix’s new trailer. (For context: In a departure from the author’s usual repertoire of legal fiction novels — A Time To Kill and The Firm are among his most popular literary works — The Innocent Man is Grisham’s only nonfiction book to date.) Why? As the trailer continues, it becomes clear that this particular true crime narrative is as convoluted as it is heartbreaking.
From interview snippets with the victims’ friends and family to archived police footage, The Innocent Man‘s two-and-a-half minute preview suggests the limited series will do its part to educate viewers about a tragic string of crimes that may or may not have seen their due justice. And perhaps even raise some questions about those original case findings in the process.
In pretty typical true-crime-docuseries fashion (think: Making a Murderer), Netflix will once again be delving into the gory details of some small-town judicial proceedings potentially gone awry. "We don’t expect the police to play dirty … it’s all about winning," Grisham explains mid-way through The Innocent Man‘s new trailer, referencing Ada’s local law enforcement bureau and its controversial handling of both murder cases, as well as the convictions that followed. Continuing, he adds, "And along the way, if the truth gets blurred, or twisted, that’s too bad."
Ultimately, The Innocent Man — Grisham’s nonfiction book, in addition to Netflix’s upcoming six-part series — feels like an attempt to finally uncover that truth. Or, at least, get a little bit closer to it. Much like the literature from which it was adapted, The Innocent Man reopens a string of long-forgotten cases associated with the horrific murders of Debra Sue Carter and Donna Denice Haraway in 1982 and 1984, respectively. As the trailer notes, Ada only housed some 17,000 residents at the time. Just given the closeness of its community, it makes sense that the town was totally shaken by those tragedies.
Unfortunately, it sounds like Ada’s widespread anguish (and understandable desire to see justice served in a timely manner) could have led to some hasty, and potentially even wrongful, convictions. So, who is "the innocent man," then? And — maybe more important — is he really innocent? Intrigued audiences will probably want to watch Netflix’s new trailer (or, alternatively, do some light research into the book that inspired it) at least once for more information on that.
Who’s to say if Grisham really is able to help the people of Ada find the answers they’re looking for by The Innocent Man‘s end, but fans should definitely tune into Netflix Dec. 14 to start uncovering the mystery for themselves.
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