Errol Morris is documentary royalty. The true-crime docs we can’t get enough of these days all owe an enormous debt to his pioneering 1988 film A Thin Blue Line, which led to the release of a wrongfully convicted man who had been sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit. His 2003 film The Fog of War, about the former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, earned Morris his first Oscar for Best Documentary. And now he’s bringing a new 6-part docuseries to Netflix — one that promises an enticing mix of drugs, government experiments, mind control, secrecy, death, and a few familiar faces. Here’s the teaser trailer:
Wormwood looks at the case of Frank Rudolph Olson, a CIA agent who fell to his death in 1953 from a hotel room in New York City after secretly being given LSD. Was his death suicide, or was it murder? A family tragedy and the hunt for the truth mixes with a larger tale of the U.S. government’s shadowy dealings and the CIA’s experimentation with LSD in the 1950s. As Morris put it in a statement released along with the trailer, the series “asks the question: To what extent can a democracy lie to its citizens and still, in the end, remain a democracy?”
Morris has revolutionized the use of re-enactments in documentary before, and this time it sounds like he’s bringing a fresh, unconventional approach to breathing life into past events — one that involves a heck of a cast list. Peter Sarsgaard, Molly Parker, Christian Camargo, Scott Shepherd, Tim Blake Nelson, Bob Balaban, Jimmi Simpson and Michael Chernus will all appear in the series, which will be screened at the Venice Film Festival before it arrives on Netflix December 15th.