Pathological: The Lies of Joran van der Sloot (2024)


Pathological: The Lies of Joran van der Sloot Review

Pathological The Lies of Joran Van Der Sloot (currently streaming on Peacock) is about the 2005 disappearance in Aruba of American high school senior Natalee Holloway and how it fits into the larger narrative around Joran van der Sloot the man widely believed to have killed her, who was convicted of murdering another woman in Peru, and later brought to the U.S. on charges of extorting money from Holloway’s mother. If you’re talking true crime, this case writes itself, indeed, it has been written so many times by TV newsmagazines, by Lifetime movies. Its interest lies not only in being “true,” but in being a specific kind of story that Pathological wants to pathologize as clinical. Mostly all it does is restate why he’s such a terrible human.

On May 30, 2005, Natalee Holloway disappeared during a trip to Aruba with her Alabama high school graduation class after which a Dutch student living on the island with his politically connected family became a key suspect. As it failed to prosecute him and the mystery deepened, her case became an international media sensation and example of media sensationalism around missing white women. Pathological.

The Lies of Joran van der Sloot picks up that thread after she vanished, suggesting its audience may already be conversant with what happened next her body was never found, van der Sloot changed his story multiple times; police arrested him more than once but could never hold or charge him for long enough; he allegedly extorted money from Beth Holloway years later by claiming to know where Natalee’s remains were buried.

That someone disturbed enough to commit one act of violence on an anniversary might do so again is no great revelation. Nor are these direct diagnoses from “hired gun” psychologists/psychiatrists who talk about him. Most of the doc is existing news footage and there’s A LOT of that, because the Halloway case broke wide, got covered again by Dateline and Fox News, then blew up all over The Netherlands but Pathological also includes new interviews with Matt Holloway (Natalee’s younger brother), Ricardo Flores (Stephany’s father) and a woman who became van der Sloot’s girlfriend while he was imprisoned in Peru. All of which does put those two murders in context, and does argue their perpetrator was van der Sloot.

There is also a coda of closure for Beth Holloway specifically with van der Sloot set to be extradited here on wire fraud charges next year, 2023. But it was always despicable that he asked them for money to tell them where her remains were, a request rooted in lies since van der sloot knew almost immediately what happened to her and where she’d been left; they are not themselves “pathological.” As a documentary, The Lies of Joran Van Der Sloot has been done already. But apparently there’s still more true crime content to fill.

What Films Will It Make Me Think Of? Natalee Holloway, a 2009 Lifetime movie that’s based on Beth Holloway’s book, which is in turn based on her own true story. Basically, if you have the time it takes to watch all of True Crime. Pathological falls in with documentary material that presents well-known cases in clearinghouse style like American Murder: The Family Next Door, about the 2018 murder of Shanann Watts and her children; or The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, which lays out the facts of a decades-old missing persons case.

Performance Worth Watching: “I hope he’s miserable. That’s what he deserves.” In interviews for Pathological, Matt Holloway Natalee’s brother offers a perspective that is at once accepting and still freshly emotional. “I definitely want to talk to him,” says Holloway of van der Sloot. “And I definitely want to whup his ass.”

Memorable Dialogue: Beth Holloway, in archived footage, on how she felt watching an interview with van der Sloot on Dutch television in 2008 three years after her daughter disappeared: “I wanted to come through the TV and kill him. I wanted to peel the skin off his face.”

Sex and Skin: None. But unsettling police interrogation tapes include van der Sloot describing his sexual assault and murder of Natalee Holloway.

Watch Pathological: The Lies of Joran van der Sloot Review For Free On Gomovies.

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