This true crime documentary on the Krugersdorp killings is the first of its kind on Showmax.
Devilsdorp is a four-part docuseries investigating the perplexing murders that happened in Krugersdorp between 2012 and 2016. The documentary focuses on this local crime and involves many twists and turns.
The murders happened in Krugersdorp, a mostly white Afrikaner small town in the West Rand of Johannesburg. In 2012, the town was plagued by a series of murders dubbed “the Satanic Murders”. The occult plays a large role in the series, with archetypal cutaway shots of a pentagram shrine, dolls and animal skulls frequently shown.
Krugersdorp faced another series of murders in 2016, called “the Appointment Murders”. The series balances two elements of dread: crime and satanism, as it creates a timeline and connects the dots between the two sets of gruesome events.
As the series unfolds, however, it becomes clear that Satan was not the one pulling strings that lead to the 11 murders.
The people in the documentary have almost out-of-this world personalities, with a no-nonsense cop and satanic leader claiming to be a vampire.
The series focuses on how Cecilia Steyn, who claims to be 42nd generational bride of Satan and leader of Electus Per Deus, a religious ministry she was able to turn into a murderous cult.
Those around Steyn, such as a teacher who roped her young children into watching and committing murder, also feature. There is also captain Ben “Bliksem” Booysens, the lead detective on the case who presents himself as a lone cowboy, with gold cufflinks and collar tips to match. Booysens takes pride in being a detective and his enthusiasm to solve murders is comforting to watch. In South Africa, where many crimes go unsolved, Booysens is a reminder that there are people in the police force who care.
The series was directed by David Enright and narrated by Jana Marx, a journalist who covered the murders and wrote the book about them, The Krugersdorp Cult Killings. Other professionals also give their insight, such as Dr Kobus Jonker, who was head of the occult related crime unit in the police service. He delves into what defines an occult killing, such as when one body was found with biblical writing on the walls. Clinical psychologist Louis Awerbuck also analyses Steyn’s psyche, the mastermind behind these Charles Manson type killings.
The production value of the series is great, with cutaway shots showing the town of Krugersdorp and cameras lingering on the areas of the crime scene The lighting is shadowy and dark, reflecting the themes of the show. The music also sets the tone for what will be a sombre documentary, with eerie sounds to remind viewers that perhaps this really is the devil’s town.
Aside from the details of the brutal murders, the show deals with other dark themes.
Religion is constantly discussed, asking the question of why people and groups with such high religious values found themselves committing highly immoral acts. This aspect however is never truly scrutinised in the series.
That said, the production manages to tell a very messy story in a clean way but there was no delving into why almost anyone can start a ministry in this community.
The cult was able to start under religious pretences. Anyone is able to start a ministry with minimal education and can twist that into whatever they want. Cecilia Steyn was able to start one with research from the internet, and then influence a ring of close people who thought that they were doing the right thing to murder others.
Most importantly, this show allows for the victims’ families to tell their stories, so that they are not just another statistic. It is emotionally intense to hear how people felt when they realised that a loved one had been murdered in such a brutal way.
When watching documentaries about crimes elsewhere it is easy to forget that South Africans are also constantly living in danger. Devilsdorp puts into perspective that you have no idea how good or evil a person in your life is, even if you live with them.
There is also a journalist, Marizka Coetzer, who was covering the case in court and ended up falling in love with one of the killers. As a journalist who will probably cover court cases, this resonated with me. I find myself thinking, what would happen if I were in a similar situation.
VUVU RATING: 8/10
FEATURED IMAGE: The official poster for the series. Photo: Twitter.
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