Movies & TV

The Confession Tapes Is A Riveting Examination Of False Guilt

Netflix’s next big docuseries asks why innocent people confess to committing heinous crimes.
IMAGE Netflix

The message of The Confession Tapes, a Netflix docuseries that launched earlier this month, happens to be an especially relevant one these days. As if we needed more reason to believe that we shouldn’t place blind trust in our justice system, nor in the people who enforce it, this crime anthology exposes the practice of manipulating and coercing confessions to heinous crimes from suspects who ultimately turned out to be innocent.

Over the course of seven 40-minute episodes,
The Confession Tapes explores six true murder cases in Canada and the U.S.—including one where the victim was burned alive—and the methods that were used in to extract false confessions from suspects. Through interviews and archived footage and recordings, each episode reveals a culture of negligence and abuse by investigators, judges, and jurors, showing just how easy it is to pin something on the wrong guy; and how sometimes, that’s what they’d prefer to do.

The Confession Tapes follows a simple documentary format, but is thorough and compelling in the way it reviews the cases and tells the stories. Director Kelly Loudenberg even brought in psychologists and experts on wrongful convictions to walk the audience through each false confession, shedding light on the motivations and breaking points that can lead an innocent person to plead guilty, and sometimes, even believe that they actually did it.


In one case, a confession was extracted using an illegal method, wherein investigators went undercover as gang members and offered to protect the suspect in case he is found guilty. Using a convoluted web of lies and a twisted way of putting pressure on the suspect, they get him to confess to a triple murder.

Netflix has found itself another great series in The Confession Tapes—something in the lot of Making A Murderer and The Keepers. Although unlike its other, lighter series, The Confession Tapes isn’t meant for binging, and instead is best spaced out. It can, after all, be pretty disheartening to repeatedly hear stories of misshapen justice being served by errant policemen.

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Miguel Escobar
Assistant Features Editor for Esquire Philippines
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