Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Confessions of Thomas Quick (2015)

The Confessions of Thomas Quick is a documentary examining the scandal behind Sweden's most notorious serial killer.  Sture Bergwall aka Thomas Quick confessed to a number of unsolved murders, was tried and convicted for 8 of those murders based solely on his confessions.  There was no physical evidence tying him to any of the crimes.  Bergwall was a patient at Sater, a forensic psychiatric clinic for the criminally insane, when he began confessing to murders.

He had a troubled childhood, growing up in the 1950s and realizing he was homosexual at a young age, something which was not accepted at the time, this put him at odds with his own identity.  He used drugs as an outlet to escape his problems.  His drug of choice: Benzodiazepine.  He was first committed for attacking young boys, then later he picked up a young man in a gay club, went home with him and stabbed him 12 times nearly killing him.  After that, he was arrested for armed robbery, having kidnapped the family of a bank manager along with an accomplice.  It was this final offense that landed him a long-term stay at Sater.

The psychiatric team at the Sater clinic, lead by Margrit Norell, sought to understand the source of their patients' criminal behavior through therapy sessions.  It was in these therapy sessions that Thomas began confessing to murder after murder.  The psychiatrists worked to trace the behavior back to childhood trauma, in Thomas' case a particularly gruesome event: as a child Thomas was raped by his father, his pregnant mother came upon this scene and was so struck that she gave birth prematurely, as the fetus dangled between her legs, still connected by the umbilical cord, his father hacked off its limbs and force fed them to Thomas.  After thoroughly dismembering Simon (the fetus), his mother and father disposed of the body, concealing their crime forever.  This event was the foundation of his killings; he sought to replace Simon's body parts with those of his victims.  A terrifying story were it true, but this was the moment I knew without a doubt that Thomas Quick was not a serial killer.  It was too grotesque, too unbelievable to be true.  But remarkably none of the psychiatrists questioned this story or any of those that followed.

The film gives us access to Sture Bergwall, himself, along with a variety of individuals close to the case.  Though it is a bit of a letdown, him not being a serial killer, it is an interesting commentary on the fascination that the law enforcement, legal and psychiatric communities have with the subject.  It also illuminates the greatest misstep in the history of Sweden's justice system, with everyone from the psychiatrists to the police to the prosecutors and judges taking Quick's stories as fact when there was absolutely no physical evidence to corroborate them.  And sadly, due to Sweden's statute of limitations, most of these unsolved murders, mistakenly attributed to Quick, will likely remain unsolved.  

My Rating:  3 out of 5

The Trailer:

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