Soaked in Bleach (2015)

Release Year: 2015

Rating: 7/10

Ever since his death in 1994, theories have been roaming that Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain was actually murdered by wife Courtney Love. There have been several books and films stating the case for why Cobain’s death wasn’t actually a suicide. People have been begging the Seattle police department to reopen the case for years with no success. This conspiracy has divided the Nirvana community with some believing Cobain was murdered while others are willing to accept the suicide. Just when it seemed like the murder theory was something that only lived on in forums, Benjamin Statler’s Soaked in Bleach came out last year.

The film begins with the main points of how Cobain’s death was a murder: the lethal heroin injection, the weird suicide note, and Courtney Love hiding things from private investigator Tom Grant. Admittedly, some of it is convincing but it seems like it’s trying to rile up viewers from the get go. One weird thing about the film are the reenactments of conversations between Love and Grant. The acting isn’t terrible, but it’s kind of bizarre. You don’t start the film expecting to see people calling themselves Kurt and Courtney. It makes you think of America’s Most Wanted. The reenactments are sometimes accompanied by actual audio recordings from Grant. At one point when he and Cobain’s friend Dylan Carson are walking around the house, Grant remarks how there’s some weird statue in the closet only to have the reenactment show a horrible replica of the In Utero angel. It’s one of those moments that makes you question if it was necessary.

There’s a point where Stalter interviews Cobain’s former “friends” and even Aaron Buckhard about what type of guy he was. And all of them say the same thing: he didn’t seem suicidal or he wasn’t depressed. He seemed like a happy guy. The film presents these opinions as if to say “See? He was happy, so he couldn’t have killed himself.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that Cobain was neither of those things. Suicide and depression can be hidden quite well. Look at the case with Robin Williams. We can’t go by stereotypical notions of what someone who is depressed or suicidal looks like. So having a bunch of people, who probably didn’t know Cobain that well, say he was really happy doesn’t do anything for the murder case. It’s also an unhealthy view on what depressed or suicidal people look like.

Whether you believe in the murder theory or not, the film does have some credit by getting field experts to voice their opinions, though they all side with Statler. There are testimonies from forensics experts, handwriting experts, the former head of Seattle police, and even an EMT who was on the scene of Cobain’s death in 1994. The insights they provide, such as what they found weird or what the Seattle police department did wrong, are interesting and do make you think twice about what we know about Cobain’s death, which is very little. Not only this, but the taped conversations are fascinating, especially ones featuring the Cobain’s lawyer Rosemary Carroll. She expresses her doubts about the suicide note and how Dylan Carlson knew Kurt was dead. She has since later gone on the record to deny all of this. It makes you wonder what else she knows about the case.

Other than this, there is very little new information here. A lot of the evidence that’s been used to prove Cobain’s death was a murder has already been recounted in books Who Killed Kurt Cobain? and Love & Death. Fans who believe in the murder theory will find very little new information here. Rather, they’ll be reminded of why the theory seems convincing at times. As with most films, especially ones about famous figures, you can’t trust everything being said. And it’s most likely the case some of the events and information were dramatized to amp up the entertainment factor. Still, the film will be interesting for anyone with a passing interest in the conspiracy theory. Will it sway non-believers? Probably not. But it’s at least a decently made documentary that only adds to the Cobain myth.

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