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Terror at the Mall Review

I think as humans we have a morbid curiosity for death and destruction and that’s why true crime documentaries do so well in this day and age, however watching Terror at the Mall was a completely different experience to anything I’ve dealt with before because it was so raw and held nothing back.

Terror at the Mall looks at the Westgate shopping mall attack that happened in 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. Four masked men went into the shopping mall and killed anyone they could get their hands on, men, women, and children. In the documentary we get to see from the CCTV footage plus body cams and cell phones of the attack going down which means everything we see is real and authentic and also means that nothing is held back.

This documentary is not for the faint of heart because you see real attacks happening on real people. So often we can watch action films where hundreds of people are murdered throughout it but you know that it’s all acting and is fake, whereas watching it play out in real time in front of you and knowing that these people are having their lives cut short by people who don’t agree with them is absolutely horrific. Hearing the first hand account of people who were there too is absolutely shocking and I can’t imagine what they have had to deal with since it all happened.

The most terrifying moment of the documentary is when hordes of women and children go behind the deli counter to hide yet the terrorists still find them and thankfully the gunman do, for some reason, decided to save the children who get out. They are even given chocolate by the terrorists which seems absolutely insane, but knowing in that moment that you as the mother have to just let your children go not knowing if you’re ever going to see them again or what’s going to happen when they leave is absolutely heart wrenching and I cannot imagine how they must’ve felt in that moment.

But the most horrific part of this documentary for me was one CCTV camera that they kept going to because it was one of the more prominent ones which in it had a statue of an elephant. We see a man hide behind this elephant cowering from his attackers when they just casually walk up to him and you see them kill him, but the horrific thing is because this one camera is so important for capturing a lot of the attack, we keep going back to the elephant and this man lying there dying and then dead. It’s horrific because you feel like you shouldn’t be watching it, you shouldn’t be allowed into this intimate moment of this man dying, and in some ways while I love true crime and documentaries like this I did wonder whether it was a step too far and whether it really needed to be made.

I think sometimes the human curiosity of death and destruction can go a bit too far, especially for images and videos of people in their worst moments being shared just because other people can’t look away. While other stories of how police catch serial killers or how survivors from terrorist attacks have dealt with it I don’t think we always need to see such candid parts of people’s final moments because, at the end of the day, documentaries and TV shows and films are made for people’s entertainment and what is entertaining about watching a man die?

If you want to try this documentary then there’s nothing stopping you, it is very informative about what happened and how things changed after the attack, however it is very brutal in being so open and honest about the concept of death and murder that it is not for the faint of heart. While I love true crime this is not a documentary that I would revisit again.

What do you think of Terror at the Mall?

Until next time.

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