Review: See No Evil – The Moors Murders

An unsettling insight into the horrific Moors murders

How do you get inside the minds of the horrific Moors Murderers? The 2-part television series See No Evil does just that, giving us a chillingly accurate insight into the lives of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley during the time they kidnapped 5 children aged 10-17. They savagely abused them and buried the remains on the Saddleworth Moors in England between 1963 and 1965. The body of one victim, Keith Bennett, is thought to still be up there and remains unfound to this day.

The production was fully backed by the families of the victims, based on extensive research, interviews and Hindley’s brother-in-law, David Smith (Matthew McNulty). If not for Smith, the missing children would probably have never been linked back to Brady (Sean Harris) and Hindley (Maxine Peake), each murder leaving no trail whatsoever. Only after their confessions and the forensic analysis of the bodies did we find out their recurrent pattern for killing these children. The children were always alone, and always asked to help look for a lost glove of Myra’s. Ian would reportedly proceed to rape and then strangle the child with a cord or a shoelace. We never see this happen, only through David’s time spent with Ian do we start to see red flags that indicate Ian’s perversion and twisted mind.

In an attempt to include David into their secret, Myra and Ian arrange a live murder for David to witness. This is the only gruesome shot of the 2 episodes, in haunting red lighting Ian wields an axe fourteen times into his last victim, seventeen-year-old Edward Evans. Somehow keeping his cool, David does as he is told and helps clean up the mess. In the early hours of the morning he finally gets home, a total wreck, to his wife Maureen (Joanne Froggatt). Through a mixture of heaving and sobbing from shock, he tells her everything. Maureen coils at the idea that her own sister (Myra), that she knows so well, could be capable of such atrocities. Nevertheless, at the break of dawn the pair rush to the police station. This experience will destroy their lives forever, and is only the beginning of a painful “concatenation of circumstances”.

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Once denounced, the trail of evidence comes together incredibly fast. The discovery of Evans’ body in Brady’s flat along with the axe. Soon followed a suitcase, containing tape recordings and photographs of the sexual abuse of missing ten-year-old Lesley Ann Downey. The sound is not heard and the photographs are not exposed, mercifully so. Including the sound of the tape recordings of the young child or the obscene photographs taken of her would have been unnecessary to the depiction of the story. The mere knowledge of their existence is enough and was a card the director did well not to play.

David Smith is initially questioned by the police, as Brady and Hindley attempt to include him in the rape and murder of the children. Public opinion of Smith is convinced he is the third Moors Murderer, and this will follow him and Maureen for their entire lives.

Finally, Brady and Hindley are charged with three counts of murder and concurrent life sentences. It is only in 1985 that Brady confessed to the killings of sixteen-year-old Pauline Reade and twelve-year-old Keith Bennett, of which only the body of Pauline was found in 1987 on Saddleworth Moor. Ian Brady remains imprisoned today, in the high-security Ashworth mental hospital since being diagnosed as criminally insane in 1985. Recently, Brady remorselessly explained that his actions were simply in pursuit of the ‘existential experience’ of it all.

Intended for television in 2006 on the 40th anniversary of the pair’s conviction, this was a remarkable effort in bringing this unsettling story into the light once again. A very well cast, tasteful production that I recommend watching to anyone interested in true stories or the psyche of criminals.

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