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Captive Audience: An American Horror Story Review: More Shocking Than Fiction

A three part Hulu documentary revisits the case of Steven Stayner whose return seven years after his kidnapping recounted in a 1989 miniseries did not mark the end of his family is ordeal.

Too smart for true crime and far more artfully constructed than standard issue nonfiction Captive Audience revisits the case of Steven Stayner who in 1972 disappeared without a trace and then resurfaced seven years later with a fellow kidnap victim in tow Those with long memories will know right off where else the Stayner family saga is going but others will be utterly shocked which is supportive evidence in the case being made by director Jessica Dimmock If you have an experience and it does not become a story says Stevens mother Kay it dies Which coming as it does near the end of episode 3 is a statement as startling as any other in this three part series.

The word story is repeated at least a dozen times in the opening moments of Captive Audience mostly by TV anchors and correspondents framing the Stayner case as it led the news circa Dec 4 1972 a 7yearold boy vanishing on his way home from school in humble Merced Calif stoking the worst fears of parents inspiring exhaustive searches and then as all such stories do when they are not solved going cold The very sympathetic Kay Stayner who says she never stopped believing her son would return concedes that when the police contacted her in March 1980 she immediately expected the worst I had all this hope for all these years and at the end I thought it was going to be bad news.

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