The story of American serial killer Aileen Wuornos has been told before in the 2003 film, Monster. Charlize Theron brilliantly transformed into Aileen Wuornos while the narrative explored her monstrous acts and her relationship with her real-life girlfriend, Tyria Moore. However, the 2021 film titled ‘Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman’ directed by Daniel Farrands, serves as a prequel to Monster (2003) and narratively portrays Aileen’s life after she flees from her hometown, Michigan, and arrives in DeLand on 4th July 1976.
The film is told by Aileen (played by Peyton List) herself as she narrates her story to a reporter named Peter (Hamish Sturgeon). Aileen is going to be executed in 24 hours, and the interaction with Peter gives her a last chance to speak the truth. But as usual, Aileen weaves a narrative that is mixed with fictitious events for the sole purpose of portraying Aileen as some kind of vigilante who served justice by punishing her molesters. The narrative majorly focuses on Aileen’s relationship with millionaire Lewis Gratz Fell and the marriage that lasted only nine weeks. Let’s find out what all happened in these 9 weeks while exploring Aileen’s serial killer traits in depth.
‘Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman’ Plot Summary
The film begins with a montage of glamorous female leads from the Hollywood Black and White Era that Aileen Wuornos grew up watching. From her childhood, Aileen was obsessed with damsels who flaunted a weapon of destruction and took charge of their own destiny. She was fascinated by these larger than life personas and wanted to become famous like them someday.
Aileen’s interviewer, Peter, a journalist, interviews her in the prison on October 8th, 2002, i.e., a day before her death row punishment. In his documentary, Peter wants to capture a part of Aileen’s life that has not yet been filmed. Aileen tells him about a brief relationship with a wealthy yacht club president, Lewis Fell, also known as “Commodore.”
Aileen narrates the incidents of July 4th, 1976, when she came to DeLand, Florida while surviving on her short income earned through street prostitution. The same night, she befriends a young woman named Jennifer “Jen” Fell (Lydia Hearst) on a private beach in Volusia County. Jen takes Aileen or Lee to her house, where she lives with her widowed father, Lewis. Lewis’s wife died a year ago, and thus Jen stays near her father to take care of him.
The following morning, Lee wears Lewis’s wife’s robe and encounters the old man in the hall room. Lewis is quite infatuated with the girl and her humorous remarks, and Aileen uses the opportunity for her own benefit. Jen discovers Aileen in bed with Lee two weeks later, and they marry two weeks later. While Jen is certain that Aileen is after her father’s fortune, she doesn’t have enough evidence to prove Aileen’s sinister motives. The film further explores Jen’s struggle to expose Aileen’s true nature and real identity.
What Did Aileen Want?
Aileen was born into poverty and, thus, getting rich and famous was her sole ambition. She married a wealthy Lewis to steal money from him. Lewis’ business advisor and close friend, Victor D. Miller, told Jen that Aileen had made herself an authorized signer on all of Lewis’ personal accounts. She started stealing cheques from Lewis’ study room and cashed them to make trips to local pubs and buy luxury items for herself.
Even though Aileen stole money like a scammer, she believed that she was a victim of fate. She blamed her upbringing and poverty for her vile nature and justified her monstrous acts as her survival instinct to escape her fate and climb up the hierarchy ladder. Aileen considered herself some kind of anarchist, which became a reason for her hatred towards wealthy women like Jennifer, who was born with a silver spoon. Throughout the film, she considered Jen and Grady to be rich, spoiled brats who used their daddy’s money to live a comfortable life, while Lee had neither money nor a father.
Into The Skin of Aileen Wuornos
In ‘Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman,’ the events play out from Lee’s point of view, and thus Peter believes that she is forging a story instead of telling the truth. Peter caught her lies when Lee told him that she killed her brother, Keith, in a Pink Flamingo Motel room. Keith had visual evidence which proved that Lee murdered Victor and his son Grady in Lewis Mansion and disposed of their bodies. According to Lee, Keith tried to blackmail her and thus killed him.
However, according to Peter, Keith died of esophageal cancer in Michigan, and there was no evidence that he was shot. At this point, Lee’s lies were exposed. Lee tried to explain to Peter that she first suffocated a person with a pillow who was already living with an oxygen cylinder. and then shot him. (For what? In order to confirm the kill).
This fatal error in Lee’s narrative explains her obsession with portraying herself as a victim in all the incidents, thus justifying her immoral acts as an act of self-defense. Later in life, when Lee engaged in prostitution and killed 7 men, she claimed in court that these men assaulted her and she killed them in self-defense.
At the end of the film, Lee’s mother, Diane Pittman, told Jen and Mitch Miller that Lee was a compulsive liar and lived in a constant state of paranoid delusion. Some psychologists also stated that Lee’s traumatic childhood, i.e., separation from parents at an early age and abuse by grandparents, became reasons for her sociopathic behavior and outbursts of anger. In her delusional state, Lee believed that these powerful men attacked her, and thus she killed them to save herself. That was why all the men in Lee’s story were portrayed as potential attackers or villains.
If one believes that her grandfather, who was a chronic alcoholic, actually exploited Lee, Then, throughout her life, Lee believed that she was a damsel in distress, but unfortunately, there was no knight in shining armor to save her. Thus, she wielded the sword (gun) herself and shot those men who exploited her.
‘Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman’ Ending Explained
Lewis took his surname literally and fell in love with Lee without inquiring about her background or real identity. But Lewis’ friend, Victor, did a background check on the suspicious woman and found out that she was a convicted criminal and had served a sentence. Without enough evidence in hand, Victor tried to bribe and blackmail Lee with 10 thousand dollars, but she knew that Lewis was worth more than a million, and thus she refused to leave. According to Lee, Victor attacked her and, thus, she killed him and his son, Grady. She told Peter that she had gotten rid of the body and, thus, they were never found.
Jennifer had given a copy of the file to Jennifer, and thus she decided to expose Lee with the help of these documents. Jen and Mitch found out about Lee’s biological mother, Diana Pittman, who ran a diner. Diana told Jen that she got pregnant with Lee and Keith at a very young age. Their father, Leo Dale Pittman, was a violent man who was convicted of crimes against children. At a very early age, Diana left Lee and Keith with their grandparents to start her life again. Lee suffered from abandonment issues from a young age, which became a reason for her personality disorder and sociopathic tendencies.
At the end of the film, Lee stole from Lewis’s account and decided to leave DeLand. However, Jen had already informed her mother about Lee’s treacherous schemes, and so Lewis shifted the money from his accounts. After Lewis confronted Lee with the truth, Lee tried to kill Lewis and pushed him off the stairs. However, Jen and Miller arrived at the house and saved Lewis’ life.
In one of the climax sequences, Lee tried to drown Jen in the swimming pool and also kissed her, which suggested her inclination towards the same gender and also hinted at her long-term relationship with girlfriend Tyria Moore. It can also be speculated that Lee liked Jen, except this time, she never showed any romantic interest in her.
After Lee was caught red-handed, she tried to escape on Lewis’ yacht, where Jen stopped her. Lee pointed Lewis’ gun at Jen, but fortunately, Lewis arrived and saved his daughter. Lee fell into the water, and the family believed that she drowned to death, but the monster was born with luck. She washed off somewhere in the St. Johns River, and some fishermen found her and saved her life. For a few months, she survived on the insurance money left by Keith, but when the money was exhausted, she went back to her old job and started picking up clients on the Florida highway.
The ending sequence reveals that one of Aileen’s old clients, whom she attacked at the beginning of the film, found her and broke her teeth in revenge. Lee told Peter that the doctor failed to fix her teeth, which resulted in her scary smile. But she was content with it because it gave character to her monstrous persona.
When Lee finished her story, Peter explicitly told her that, except for her marriage with Lewis, all other threads of her narrative were fabricated fiction. Peter’s suspicion could be true as Lee was obsessed with an image that only existed in her head and wanted to creatively use it somewhere. Her stories, fortunately or unfortunately, became her medium.
After her escape from DeLand, Lee murdered seven men between 1989 and 1990. She was taken into custody for violent homicide and executed by lethal injection on October 9th, 2002.
Aileen Wuornos: American Boogeywoman is a 2021 biopic drama film written and directed by Daniel Farrands.