Story: The disappearance of teen Brittney Nicole Wood would spark a firestorm of law enforcement and media attention, propelling her case into a statewide spotlight and leading to one of the most notorious criminal investigations ever in Alabama. Wood was supposed to be visiting an out of town relative, but within days of her disappearance, the uncle she was visiting turned up dead and while it looked like a suicide, that did little to remove the dark aura from Brittney’s absence. As police investigated her case, they would find connections to other crimes and in a shocking, tragic turn of events, uncover a sex ring that involved incest, rape, and even murder. In Monster in the Shadows, this unforgettable case is examined in depth, with the hope of finding some answers.
Entertainment Value: This is a dark, horrific case and even if you know what to expect going in, the sick details will likely still shock and sadden. I can’t believe this wasn’t more of a national story, as it is so shocking and unusual, but it wasn’t given much attention outside Alabama. That is looked at somewhat over the course of the docuseries, but I think more to the point, the hope was that this docuseries could raise awareness on a larger scale. This is a three episode limited series, with involvement from family members, a retired detective, news media personnel, and others with connections to the case, though no current law enforcement involved in the case appears. The absence of active police from the case is an issue, as it limits some aspects of the docuseries’ depth, but having one former detective at least lends some perspective from that angle. The pace here is even and never rushed, allowing time for things to sink in and emotion to take root, which of course makes watching this much harder, as you’re so drawn in and taken inside the personal aspects of the case.
The series provides a lot of details about the case of course, but it also deals with how the police handled matters and how the media covered the case, both of which come under massive scrutiny here, to say the very least. This is another reason the lack of active law enforcement is noticeable, as having responses to some of the issues raised would have been welcome. You can tell tensions run hot toward how the police investigated the case, so it would have been interesting to see the responses, given how strong some of the claims against the cops are. The same holds true for the media involved, as claims are made that news outlets targeted all of the family members, including extended family that had no connection to the case other than their bloodline. Now how much of these criticisms are true, that is subjective and sadly, neither group of complaints are explored in depth from both sides. But there does seem to be at least some possible mistakes made by police and the media, so at least those concerns are brought up, even if they’re not addressed in full. Monster in the Shadows can be hard to watch, but it is a compelling and well crafted true crime docuseries.