Review by Brian Lowry, CNN
As titles not to watch with the kids go, “I Just Killed My Dad” has to rank pretty high on the list. Yet there are enough twists in Netflix’s latest true-crime docuseries to keep audiences engaged, with another sensational case that’s more of a whydunit — given the killer’s immediate confession — than who.
The phrase in the title was uttered in 2019 by then-17-year-old Anthony Templet, who had just shot his father in their home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Over three episodes, director Skye Borgman (also responsible for Netflix’s “Girl In The Picture”) teases out the events that preceded those actions, including allegations of abuse and child abduction, as well as the decision by Anthony’s father, Burt, to home school him and demand that he know the boy’s whereabouts at all times.
“I Just Killed My Dad” thus gradually peels back layers on this sordid saga — “sordid” being the operative word for almost everything that Netflix does in the true-crime space, including its recent entries “The Most Hated Man on the Internet” and “Our Father.”
What makes it all vaguely chilling is Anthony’s numb, unemotional response — seemingly convinced he hasn’t done anything wrong — and his overall manner, which indicates that not all has been right within the home.
After the initial flurry of twists, the tale does bog down in the middle, giving way to Anthony’s lawyer and the prosecutor in the case trying to find a path that feels like justice given all the extenuating circumstances. As the latter notes, there’s understandable concern about appearing to sanction murder, and how letting the boy go might be perceived. (The case was resolved in 2021, but not knowing how adds to the viewing experience.)
Frankly, “I Just Killed My Dad” seems to exist largely because of that attention-getting title, which weds old-fashioned exploitation movies with the fare normally found on channels like Investigation Discovery.
Netflix has gone a bit overboard with these kind of docuseries in terms of sheer volume, but to be fair, so has everyone else. Moreover, these projects reliably light up social media for a lot less money than going out and hiring an all-star cast.
While something like “I Just Killed My Dad” might not be the kind of material that’s fun for the whole family, it’s the sort of formula that usually ensures a trip right to the top of the service’s most-watched tier.
“I Just Killed My Dad” premieres Aug. 9 on Netflix.
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