What if Aileen Wuornos had been extremely attractive?
Bradfield (Animal Planet, 1995, etc.) takes male society’s sick fascination with serial killers and spins into it a whole extra thread of sexual tension and provocation that makes for a queasily entertaining experience. Delilah Riordan—“Lah” to her buddies, “The Black Widow” to the press—is the only 19-year-old nymphomaniac on Death Row in the West Texas Women’s Penitentiary. That means she gets some special treatment, especially from the warden and her social worker, both of whom seem to be carrying a torch for her. Convicted of a string of brutal murders in a number of states, Delilah is now writing her “confessions,” a diary that claims to disclose all that she has actually done, as opposed to the lying tales about her in the media. It’s pretty obvious from the start that Delilah is a less-than-truthful storyteller, which definitely makes for a more amusing narrative: “First off, I have not killed that many people, maybe two, though there have been several accidents involving men I knew.” As befits the output of a psychopathic teenager, her narrative jumps all over the place, flitting among reminiscences of childhood, justifications for why she did what she was convicted for, and tantalizing suggestions of other, as-yet-undiscovered crimes; it all acts as a gigantic tease for the great revelation that seems sure to be unveiled at the close. Delilah’s fanciful musings, in which she also tries to start writing a novel and proclaims many times her love for W. Somerset Maugham, are counterpointed by transcripts of interviews between her and various authority figures, most of them feeling a fatal attraction toward her. Bradfield’s story has an undeniable edge, and his aim is true when aiming at the sexual vortex of media worship, but that’s not enough to make this an entirely successful exercise. At times it seems like an unnecessary throwback to the serial-killer-obsessed 1990s.
A tabloid stew of unreliable narration and stabbing satire.