I Killed Solomon Reid
May 10, 2022
Richard Anthony Dunford
Richard Anthony Dunford
Tygorah Smith, Ruby-Mae Cooper. Saddat Khan
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One crime has many culprits in I Killed Solomon Reid, an intriguing if indulgent docu-drama told in a ‘true crime retrospective’ style – focusing on a cast of characters whose dark secrets led to tragedy.
Some years after the murder of netball coach Solomon Reid (Tygorah Smith), a documentary team are covering the true story behind the grizzly crime. Those closely tied his death give their accounts in a series of talking head interviews, as viewers discover Reid’s connection to star player Kaylee Carter (Ruby-Mae Cooper), her ex-navy father Warren (David Pilgrim), brother Luke (Adam Forrester) and school staff member Elliott Gibson (Nicholas Pople) amongst others – who all feel a responsibility for the shocking events.
I Killed Solomon Reid is a gripping and enjoyably intricate drama told retrospectively as a fictional documentary series, which slowly uncovers the story of a murder over five 30-minute episodes. Each episode focuses on a member it’s cast of characters that are filled with depth and complexity – documenting how they tie into the story. It is an original and effective concept that keeps audiences invested in the fictional murder.
There are hiccups with the story itself – with critical information withheld in a somewhat unnatural way in order to give each episode a revelation, but which clashes with the series’ format as a supposed non-fictional documentary. Certain episodes lose themselves down rabbit holes, with an overfocus on high-school netball drama or the prior love-life of the episode’s main character, which fail to really tie into the primary plot line of the titular character’s murder – which is where the audience’s real interest lies. The ending is hinted at and built through the series, though feels detached from many of the events that the show focuses on through its previous four episodes and ends up as a rather unsatisfying conclusion designed to give a ‘shock’ ending. The withholding of key information in this manner does result in unpredictability, but the overall storytelling suffers for it and viewers will feel cheated of the chance to have ‘solved’ the murder themselves.
The interviews which are the show’s primary narrative device are well-scripted and come across as authentic, though do grow repetitive – especially with certain footage used multiple times across different episodes. These are occasionally broken up with ‘dramatic reconstructions’ of the events described. However, confusingly, the same actors carrying out the reconstructions are those giving the interviews and acting out recorded and found footage – including Tygorah Smith, whose Solomon Reid is meant to be long-dead. This utterly shatters immersion and these scenes should have been either narratively separated from the ‘documentary’ to make clear only the show’s viewers are seeing them, or left out entirely.
The series is generally well acted – with Ruby-Mae Cooper’s portrayal of wide-eyed, naive Kaylee and David Pilgrim’s grimacing turn as her father Warren being particular highlights. Adam Forrester as brother Luke is also impressive, and probably the show’s best example of a character developing over the series as the weight of the events are brought back to someone talking years down the line. There are cracks in some of the performances though, with certain cast members evidently reading from a script in their segments and struggling to effectively convince viewers they are actually partaking in a real interview.
But despite some shortcomings, the overall intrigue built and the originality of the show’s format make I Killed Solomon Reid an engaging and thrilling series. Despite bloat, and some storytelling issues, this 5-part docu-drama is an enigma worth solving.