‘I Just Killed My Dad’ Review: Netflix’s True Crime Series Recalls a Teen’s Violent Response to Years of Abuse

Nightmarish parents and father figures have appeared in a sobering number of documentaries this year, from “Girl in the Picture” to “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey” to “Our Father” and “Captive Audience,” as well as the fictional but real. limited series based on “Under the Banner of Heaven” and “The Staircase,” and the pattern continues with the Netflix series “I Just Killed My Dad.” This is an in-depth look at a notorious case in which a 17-year-old in Baton Rouge, Louisiana called 911 on June 3, 2019 and confessed to killing his father.

Directed by true crime documentary expert Skye Borgman (“Abducted in Plain Sight,” “The Girl in the Picture”), the three-part series opens with 18-year-old Anthony Templet sitting down for an interview and saying he’s important for him to tell his story because “my life is at stake and I want people to know that I am not crazy, that I am not a murderer and that I am innocent”. Cut to the audio of that 911 call, with Templet, then 17, saying in a natural voice, “I just killed my dad. What do I need to tell you?”

We know the formula of these true crime documents. After the haunting opening title sequence, we get interviews with many of the main survivors involved in the case; news archive footage and recordings of police interrogations; home video and audio; gruesome crime scene photos and grim recreations of certain events. It’s a relatively simple plan, but it takes a skillful director who knows how to craft the story (and get the interview subjects to open up), as well as judicious editing, to keep a story focused and intriguing. “I Just Killed My Dad” does all of that quite well.

After Anthony Templet called 911 in the middle of the night, police arrived and found the body of Anthony’s father, Burt, who had been shot to death. Detectives involved in the investigation, as well as East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney Dana Cummings, talk about how Anthony showed virtually no emotion and spoke in a monotone. (“I really don’t like it,” Anthony says matter-of-factly during an interrogation the morning after the shooting.)

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Young Anthony Templet is seen with Father Burt in a stock photo from “I Just Killed My Dad.”

Something was…wrong. During the initial interview, Anthony was unsure of his date of birth or his address. In flashback sequences, we learn that Burt Templet was a controlling and manipulative man who kept Anthony out of school, isolated him from other family members, followed Anthony’s every move, and abused Anthony. Over the years, Anthony’s stepmother, among others, found Anthony strange and almost devoid of feeling. (“I don’t know if he has empathy,” says Assistant District Attorney Cummings.)

What initially appeared to be a clean-cut murder case turned out to be much more complicated. “Once you understand the whole picture of this young man’s life,” says one observer, “and when you understand the totality of his experiences, that he was never going to be able to escape his father, it became clear that Anthony wanted the abuse. stop, and the only way to stop it was to kill his father.

In March 2021, Anthony Templet was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to five years of supervised probation. Everyone involved in the case, including the prosecution, showed remarkable compassion and agreed that this was a young man who never had a life and deserved the chance to try to make one. As we see in a haunting and unforgettable final shot of a silent Anthony wrestling with his emotions, it won’t be easy.

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