The unfavorable Gone Girl comparison in American Nightmare

Why does the 2014 film directed by David Fincher and based on Gillian Flynn's novel keep cropping up in the Netflix docuseries?
American Nightmare. Cr: Netflix.
American Nightmare. Cr: Netflix. /

American Nightmare is Netflix's latest true crime documentary series and this time it delves into the kidnapping of Denise Huskins. In March 2015, Matthew Muller spied on Denise and her boyfriend Aaron Quinn before breaking into their home and kidnapping Denise. Because the case included some truly wild details, the Vallejo police believed the entire thing was a hoax, thus the Gone Girl comparisons were born.

The year before the kidnapping, actually just five months before the traumatic event, the 2014 movie Gone Girl released in theaters. Based on Gillian Flynn's blockbuster novel (she also wrote the screenplay) and directed by David Fincher, Gone Girl centered on a woman named Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) who faked her own kidnapping and framed her husband, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), to make it look like he murdered her.

Gone Girl was used to slander Denise's name by the media

Amy's plan was to commit suicide so Nick would go to prison for life for "murdering" her, the whole scheme an elaborate ploy to seek revenge against her husband for having an affair. Eventually, after seeing the whole world turn against Nick, Amy decides she's punished Nick enough and chooses to return to him so they can maybe restart their relationship, as crazy as that sounds.

Needing an alternate plan, she turns to her old acquaintance Desi Collings (Neil Patrick Harris), who she formerly got a restraining order against for stalking. Amy seduces Desi and then kills him before setting up a ploy to make it look like he kidnapped and raped her before she killed him in self-defense. Then she returns to Nick in a huge, public gesture.

Apparently, the Vallejo police believed that Denise Huskins was following Amy Dunne's playbook, right down to being returned after her kidnapping and reuniting with Aaron. But if you watch American Nightmare, it's clear that didn't happen and Denise had been telling the truth all along. The "Amy Dunnes" of the world are actually extremely rare and far between, despite what certain factions of the media would have you believe. The actual percentage of false reports is somewhere between 2 and 8%, meaning over 90% are true.

American Nightmare
American Nightmare - Courtesy Netflix /

Vallejo police failed Denise Huskins on every level

The second episode of the docuseries is particularly heartbreaking as we get to hear Denise tell her story from her perspective in all of its horrific detail. The real kicker comes int he final episode where we learn that the cops actually could have found Denise much earlier had they bothered to take Aaron's claims more seriously rather than focusing on prosecuting Denise and Aaron.

One of the most chilling discoveries revealed by the doc is that when Aaron first went to the police, he told them that the kidnappers intended to contact him via his cell phone. Instead of keeping the phone on hand, the investigators put it on airplane mode.

The following day, they saw they had missed two phone calls, both traceable, that would have taken them to where Denise was being hold. Less than 200 meters away. It's truly devastating to see Denise discuss this in American Nightmare, as she realizes that if the police had tracked those calls, they could have saved her from being raped a second time.

So with everything that has been proven true about Denise's story, it becomes even more insulting that the media turned to a fictional story to try and paint her out to be an attention-seeking con woman. It just goes to show how difficult it is for victims of assault to get their stories heard.

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