The documentary is based on a serial killer and rapist who lived in Ontario, Canada. David Snow, a serial murderer, was found guilty of two murders in April 1992. Nancy and Ian Blackburn, a couple from a cottage near Toronto, were the victims of murder. The convict was also connected to the murder of Carolyn Case, another Toronto resident. According to the documentary, David murdered Nancy Blackburn first and then forced Ian to drive back to their home in Toronto. A nephew to the couple was sent to check on them only to discover two lifeless bodies on the trunk of the car. Before David Snow was captured, he was involved in a series of other crimes, particularly against women. The crime story video, The House Hermit, presents a non-fiction account that is substantially accurate as well as authentic, it recreates a traumatic event that involves illegality consequently involving the viewing audience in a form of resolution.

The video has selected carefully from the vast recorded material many short statements by individuals who were involved. Detectives, members of the public as well as police personnel from Toronto are all featured in the video. These statements by people who were involved are presented immediately to acquire the audience’s attention. The narrator pauses to allow other people to comment, consequently, individual parties, including photojournalists, detectives, and forensic scientists are explored in depth, allowing the homicide and a series of other crimes by the perpetrator to be presented while solutions are sought.

Additionally, the video involves suspense which is not fundamentally as a result of finding out what is going to happen because the video is based on fact, therefore the audience already knows what happened. The House Hermit video creates suspense in form of the quest to know the motivations, attitudes and inner feelings of the offender even when the actual occasion is recapped. After testimonies from Shaws and David’s sibling, Victor Snow, a psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Zoffman took the stand to provide her analysis of the offender’s mental state. Notably, Snow was perceived to have the features of a dangerous offender considering that throughout he has been unable to accept authority and unable to generate and maintain relationships. Additionally, the video is more factual than fiction because of documentary markers. The video involves switching back and forth between several settings as well as individuals who are following corresponding courses in time as well as action. After determining that David Snow was responsible for the other subsequent abductions after the Blackburn’s homicide, law enforcement personnel were on high alert.

Several emotional, as well as physical viewpoints, are presented in an increasingly dramatic order until a peak is reached. For instance, there are staged scenes portraying David Snow abducting his victims. He drifts into a clothing store in Kitsilano, British Columbia, claiming to be interested in purchasing female clothes. After some inquiry, he leaves only to come back and assault her victim who escapes naked screaming into the alleyway. Additionally, another scene shows Snow bursting into a downtown Vancouver photography shop, brandishing a gun and abducting Lenore Rattray. Further, David’s Snow’s campsite where he subjected his victims to beating, as well as sexual assaults, is also captured.

Further, in answering the question why, the video goes beyond the actual participants and seeks to analyze and comment on the problem. The video contains view from journalists as well as mental health experts. Margo Harper, a reporter of the CBC, criticizes law enforcement for their reluctance in alerting members of the public, particularly the young female merchants who ran their stores alone. Further, psychiatric experts also comment on the possible roots of the offender’s psychopathic sadism as well as his deviant social history.

The video underlines the integral role that forensics played in the solving the murder. Some of the forensics are featured applying scientific techniques particularly, forensic sketching as well as fingerprint development. Notably, after analyzing the Appleton case, it became apparent to the detectives and forensics that “The House Hermit” and the man that was being denoted by the press as “the Cottage Killer” were the same. Further, the police had collected fingerprints from the Appleton event, moreover, they also made a sketch of an unkempt man in his mid-late thirties with messy hair a long neck. Consequently, the video showcases how a profile describing the offender was generated. Further, the video underlines a decision which paved way for the cracking of the case. A sketch and handwriting samples were released to the general public. Alison Shaw, an artist who recognized the handwriting, recounts how she had discovered the handwriting.

When the video has almost finished narrating what occurred, it does not end there, rather it acknowledges that its purpose is not yet accomplished. The video demonstrates through the interviews that there is more to the case than who committed the offenses, where and when. Therefore, the video explores the motivation behind the problem, a courtroom artist asserts that it was dramatic when the offender’s brother appeared before the court. Felicity Don, who is the courtroom artist says that it is like the brother knew that his brother was a murderer. Actual scenes of events outside the courtroom are captured in the video, one photojournalist asserts that it was awkward for him capturing the image of such an offender. The video’s factual nature may be questioned considering that it employs components of dramatic reconstruction in almost all scenes where David Snow attacks and abducts his victims. However, such dramatizations have not been exaggerated considering that some of the victims narrated their ordeals with the offender. Moreover, such dramatizations can be justified considering that at the time of the events, surveillance and amateur footages were not available.

Conclusively, David Snow was convicted of several charges and categorized as a dangerous offender. Additionally, it was also proved in court that he was guilty of first-degree murder of the Blackburn. The documentary is more fact than fiction considering that it presents an actual account of a man who committed serious crimes. The video places its audience in the role of an eyewitness while providing interviews that offer the contrast between observation sequences in intercut fragments. Additionally, the scenes which could not be accessed in real life situations are dramatized based on the facts that were presented by the victims and observers. Ultimately, the video describes a real life crime event with an aim of telling the truth, its visual impact is more profound as compared to those in written text.


Crime Stories. The House Hermit. Video, 2017. Accessed May 21, 2017.

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