Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: The Monster of Mangatiti

TV Preview: The Monster of Mangatiti | TV1, 8.30 Sunday


By Doug Coutts

The Monster of Mangatiti is, or was, Bill Cornelius, rapists, thug, manipulator and all-round arsehole. He made a habit of enticing young women to his backblocks farm and keeping them there, against their will, and brutalising them in all manner of ways.

Brought to justice in 2008, he was eventually set free because of ‘mild dementia’ and carked it in 2012. Good riddance.

That he faced the courts at all is largely down to one of his victims, Heather Walsh, who laid a complaint 20 years after she’d managed to escape, and The Monster of Mangatiti is her story.

It’s a harrowing story, both of the 24 weeks she spent suffering at the hands of Cornelius before managing to get away and the decades afterwards trying to forget and/or come to terms.

Here it’s told as a dramatised documentary, with Heather narrating. Sadly, the drama component is heaped on with an enormous spoon, often to the point of being gratuitous. The soundtrack does its best to compete with annoying (and getting a little clichéd) percussive effects on every cut.

I’m sure the critics will rave, but for me it’s a terrible tale spoiled by letting the theatrics get in the way. It could have been a compelling documentary, or an equally compelling drama – as it stands it’s an overlong mishmash that piles on the horror for the first hour, then quickly wraps everything up in the last five minutes.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years. He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at:
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2 Responses to “Doug Coutts’ TV Preview: The Monster of Mangatiti”

  1. Warning: preg_replace(): Unknown modifier '/' in /home/customer/www/ on line 66
    January 3, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    My sentiments exactly, Doug Coutts. It could have been a compelling documentary drama as opposed to a Netflix movie.

  2. I understand that the human propensity for depravity and ignorance is extraordinary but this movie takes those traits to new levels. Hard to watch and difficult not to be judgmental. Especially if the young prisoner really had that many opportunities to come to her senses, escape and still chose not to do so. So many red flags that to continue to be so ambivalent suggests that the captive had some major shortcomings. Does not reflect well about New Zealand north.

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